Happy Surprises Bring Joy to Gardening
In our move from our previous home, I hastily dug up anything small enough to carry and plopped those plants wherever I could get a shovel in the ground at the new place. That was seven years ago. Recently, after a whirlwind of emptying moving boxes and work out of town, I have been enjoying some extra time, allowing me to focus on my yard and see things I typically don’t have time to notice. One of the happy surprises is finding lost and forgotten plants—plants that I thought had died—plants that somehow have managed to survive in spite of serious neglect on my part. I have witnessed the resurrection of plants from the old home place!
Tucked among the leaf litter and spreading Liriope grass, I spotted one of my favorites—Geranium maculatum, the Wood/Spotted Geranium, quietly struggling to survive amid the competing foundation shrubs and ground covers. The Wood Geranium is not the same plant as the weedy Geranium dissectum or Geranium carolinianum, Wild Geraniums that litter lawn grass in early spring. This one has flowers that are pretty, big, pale rose-colored blossoms with darker stripes radiating out from the center. It forms a nice mound of interestingly-lobed foliage and blooms.
I suppose it will be several years before it flowers, but it has sprouted with new leaves. I tried rescuing it today by relocating it to a partly sunny location out of the line of footpaths, in decent soil. I hope it naturalizes and thrives in its new home. It is amazing to see it alive. The ground where I found it was solid, compacted clay. It has gone through at least four droughty seasons without withering away. Only two or three leaves were remaining, but it is obviously drought-tolerant and can handle difficult soils, but prefers and deserves better treatment. I don’t see how it could have lived another year, so the rescue came in its last moments of life.
Two years later, I have sad news to tell. The little, struggling Wood Geranium has succumbed to the most devastating drought I have witnessed in Georgia, since moving here over thirty years ago—at least I think it has. Every day I walk past both the old and new planting sites, hoping to see some deeply-cut, toothed leaves sprouting from the spots where they grew previously. I see nothing. I’ll give it some more time. Maybe there will be another happy surprise.