How long are you willing to wait for a plant to reach peak performance in your garden?
We’ve all heard the saying about perennials. The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and finally the third year they leap.
This isn’t always true, but generally, the point is there are no instant gardens. Gardens can take years, decades, to mature and become the plant paradises that we all dream of.
In my garden, I planted the white-flowering shrub clematis (Clematis integrifolia ‘Alba’) ten years ago.
It’s been an interesting plant, one that people ask about. It has bloomed each year, but for some reason this year, after ten years, I feel like it has come into its own. It is no longer a background plant with a few white flowers each year, it’s a focal point that draws attention.
Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention?
In my sunroom, the night-blooming cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) sat in a large pot for 13 years before it bloomed for me. Then it was another five years before it bloomed again, I assume because I repotted it.
My night-bloomer seems to bloom best when I let it get pot bound, withhold fertilizer, and water sparingly. Under these conditions, it has bloomed more consistently the last several years, twice last year, and has a flower bud on it now, so I should have a bloom in a few weeks, or maybe a week.
When it does bloom, it is a one night event, and it is the closest you can get to ‘instant gratification’ in terms of a bud opening and flowering in just a few hours. I’ll use Twitter if I’m home when it blooms to post updates so others can see the rapid progression from bud to bloom.
But rapid is a relative term. It will still take a few hours.
And in this age of instant gratification, a few hours can seem like forever. We want it, and we want it now. Have we lost the ability to be patient, to wait? How often have you heard someone say “I can’t wait?”
In the garden, it doesn’t matter if you can’t wait, you have to wait.
We can be impatient with the rest of life, but in the garden impatience gets you no where. You have to wait for seeds to sprout, for the weather to warm up, for flowers to bloom, for trees to grow tall, for tomatoes to ripen, and for perennials to sleep, creep and leap.
If you can’t wait, get out of the garden!
How long are you willing to wait for a plant to flower in your garden?
I believe I have effectively used botanical names in this post without going overboard or distracting from the content.
It occurred to me while I was writing this post that I could have told you to "embrace waiting" but I might have gotten a comment or two telling me, "Oh, yeah, well embrace THIS! It really is too soon to ask anyone to embrace something else besides weeding, bugs, your weather, your soil, mowing, and botanical names. I'm going to WAIT before I ask you to embrace anything else.