June 26, 2012

Rewards for the Patient Gardener

For five years I barely tolerated Aruncus aesthifolia.  It is dwarf goatsbeard, and it really is very dwarf.  For years it was a tidy but tiny ball, about five inches high, of ferny green foliage.  There were some neutral looking fuzzy brown spikes when it bloomed.  Meh.

All of a sudden this June the dwarf goatsbeard has bulked up into a rich green mound, and is blooming in miniature arching white sprays.  Who knew it was ever going to look this good?


I dug up one of the clumps as it outgrew its space this spring.  I didn't know where to put it, so it went in a pot, and now I really like the round ferny mound, sitting in a corner of the porch.

It gets almost no sunshine inside, so it is not as floriferous as the outdoor goatsbeard, but the little sprays of white are nice.  The whole pot anchors an empty corner of the porch.

Another surprise this year has been the maturing drift of tiarella plants --- foamflower, which is still blooming, after 10 weeks.  These low mounds sent up a river of pinky white starry candles in April and amazingly they are still going strong, still foamy and full as we enter the last weeks of June.

As a stand of amsonia bulks up, the foamflowers have to assert themselves below it, but they are well established now, and they just keep on keeping on.  What a blooming machine.


I've been waiting for years for a native New Jersey Tea plant (Ceanothus americanus) to do something.  The deer ate it to the ground the first year, so it had to start over.  The branches are brittle and get snapped off in wind or heavy rain so that keeps setting it back.  But finally, this year I have a shrub full of small white pompoms that look like miniature lilac blooms.
The flowers are not spectacular -- kind of a muddy off white, but don't tell the bees that.  This plant hums and vibrates on a sunny day, with pollinators drunkenly bumbling all over it.  It's a nice shrubby shape.  It is still subject to stem breakage in the rain, but right now it is full and flowery and full of pollination frenzy.

The clematis I planted three years ago is a big spray of foliage and white flowers this year, and it completely covers its support pyramid.  It is a viticella clematis, called 'Alba Luxurians'.

I moved it in year two, and that set it back, but now, matured and settled in its new spot by the patio wall, it is a fine thing.  Each bloom is shaped like a limp handkerchief with a splash of green.  Interesting, but individual blooms are not big and are more droopy than showy.  But what a tower of flowers.


All these white flowered plants underwhelmed or got a slow start, and their small blooms will never wow you.  But each has been such a nice surprise this year, finally.

Am I a patient gardener or what?



27 comments:

  1. Laurrie your garden looks beautiful! Yes, patience certainly is a virtue for the gardener and most of the time it is rewarded. I'm so glad the dwarf Aruncus finally came through for you.

    I think it was on Broken Arrow's facebook page that I just saw a variety of Ceanothus with lilac colored flowers. Next time I'm down there I'll have to take a look.

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    1. Sue, thanks! The blue ceanothus are the "California lilacs" that grow all over the west coast. They are big strikingly beautiful plants and grow wild. It looks like Broken Arrow has a hybrid 'x pallida' that is smaller like my little white C. americanus, but blue colored like the California ones. Nice.

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  2. I tried the Aruncus for the first time this year, in my city garden where things need to be small. So far it's a great addition. But it's the first year. I guess I'll really know two or three years from now. Your garden is looking great. It's really maturing.

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    1. James, your dwarf goatsbeard should stay nice and small --- even as a mature plant (finally!) mine are still tidy, neat mounds. It should look good in your more structured NY garden.

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  3. Good for you to learn that patience pays off. I like white flowers in the garden as they look like beacons in the dusk and dawn light. I bet the clematis tower is particularly pretty in that light. Seeing your tiarella makes me want to try it again. I just need to find a spot in the garden that it likes. hmmmmmm

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    1. Lisa, I tried the tiarella in several locations, and finally put it in a winding strip under other plants. In early spring, before the amsonia and baptisia and a nearby rose leaf out, it is sunny and bright. In summer, the tiarella gets deep shade from the overhanging foliage of those dense plants when they have filled in. The spring sunlight and summer shade seems to make tiarella happy. I hope you find a spot for some!

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  4. Laurrie, you make patience look like a virtue, a lesson gardeners often find hard to learn. The goatsbeard evolution is especially impressive.

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    1. Lee,
      "Patience: A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue."
      (Ambrose Bierce)

      You got it just right : )

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  5. What is the saying...all good things come to those who wait. Your patience has definitely paid off, Laurrie. I'm so glad to see the goatsbeard doing so well; it gives me hope for the puny little thing I planted this spring. I love the tiarellas, too; they're such dainty little plants but add such a nice accent.

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    1. Rose, Your puny little goatsbeard will impress you one day. It will never be very big or showy, though. Just a nice, small, tidy plant. Wait for it!

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  6. Congratulations to you for being so patient. Certainly worth the wait for all these large and lovely plants. I'm having a hard time with that virtue lately :) I wanted a flower bed full of blooms this year and everything is just so darn tiny still.

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    1. Marguerite, despair and virtue are just about the same thing when you are waiting for stuff to GROW!

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  7. So encouraging that your patience has paid off, Laurrie. I love that your potted some up for the porch too. It looks great. Your post is encouraging. Between the drought and the bunnies, I have quite a few plants that haven't reached their potential. I keep believing in them though.

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    1. Cat, Gardeners always see the beautiful potential, even if others just see bunny-eaten dried little plants.

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  8. Wow, I guess patience does pay off. Everything looks great in your garden. I especially like the dwarf goatsbeard. I have tons of stuff that barely survives in my garden, too. Every now and then something will surprise me by looking pretty good. It is so encourgaing when that happens.

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    1. Zoey, It seems that when I gave up on many of the slow ones, they finally rewarded me. If you keep looking and fussing and wondering when a plant is going to do more than survive, it does nothing. When you ignore it, there it is!!

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  9. There can be no gardening without patience. I think that's why people come to gardening after the flush of impatient youth. But aren't the rewards wonderful?!

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    1. Lynn, the rewards are indeed wonderful!

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  10. I think gardening forces us to learn patience. I had to give away my New Jersey tea when I just couldn't keep them happy. My tiarella is miserable in our heat and I'm not sure it will make it through the summer. Love your goatsbeard. I grew the dwarf variety when I lived in NY. I love how soft the flowers are. Your garden looks incredible!!

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    1. Tammy, I think of our gardens as being very similar, but the difference in zone means things you grow I can't, and plants that do well for me are a struggle in your garden.

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  11. Time has rewarded you with wonderful white blooms. I love white in a garden. It causes you to stop and take a long adoring look. Good for you for allowing these plants to mature.

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    1. Joene, I do seem to have a lot of white in my garden, not just these plants but many others. I find white so appealing!

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  12. Hi Laurrie, My experience with the full-sized Goat's Beard was similar. I read that it was a giant of a plant, but for the first couple of year's I found myself looking at and thinking, really, this is a big scale perennial? Then, suddenly it took off and turned into a monster-sized plant in year three. I loved it so much, that I also bought the dwarf kind. Mine is just a year old. I look forward to seeing it bulk up.

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    1. Jennifer, I also have the full sized Aruncus dioicus and am finding two differing experiences -- like yours, my large goatsbeard is puny and undersized after two years, but on another blog a gardener advised that A. dioicus bulked up and bloomed profusely for her in year two.

      I dunno, I think they are slow starters, and I am glad to know yours took a few years. A can be patient . . .

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  13. The white and green clematis is gorgeous! It is so satisfying to see a beautiful plant reach its full potential. Patience certainly paid off for you with all of these lovely plants.

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    1. Deborah, it really is rewarding to see the full potential, especially when these plants looked so underdeveloped or puny at first!

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