Six on Saturday:  Never Quite Perfect


So many different trees have bloomed here this week I’m almost losing track.  A quick trip across town shows we’re in the midst of ‘instant spring’ as trees, nearly bare a week ago, have bloomed and their leaf buds are swelling.  Bare grey branches appear to transform overnight with green buds and flowers opening to welcome bees and other hungry visitors.

Daffodils, and other bulbs, help me navigate where we find ourselves in the annual pageant of ‘early spring,’ ‘mid-spring,’ and ‘late-spring.’  Each opens in its own time, enticed by some secret combination of warmth, moisture, and light.  I found Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ in full bloom mid-week, which indicates we find ourselves in mid-spring.  The early flowers have already bloomed and I’m snipping away their faded remains.  Some of the daffies are still breaking ground, and others are nearly ready to bloom.

Magnolia liliiflora

A tremendous storm swept across much of North America this week and visited us Wednesday and Thursday.  This was on top of a storm last weekend that downed trees in our community.  I woke up early Thursday morning to thunder and pounding rain.  We had wind and rain for hours.  The NWS and local meteorologists stayed busy issuing warnings and alerts all day.  There was flooding in areas nearby, but we watched the rain drain into the ditches and culverts as it should, and we had sunshine again by Friday morning.

The pounding rain pounded the daffodils, though, and yesterday morning I found many stems bent over with flowers flat against the earth.  Daffodils bloom for a few short weeks each spring, and it seems a shame to find them spoiled by heavy rains.  There were way too many to cut and bring inside, as we sometimes do to save those that have fallen.

Narcissus ‘Exotic Mystery’

The wind this week gave us a gift, though, as a huge old lichens covered oak branch fell nearby.  We noticed its beauty right away and found a spot for it along one of the shrub borders.  It is well-weathered, and we will admire and use it until it eventually melts back into the earth.

We are still enjoying a beautiful Virginia spring, even as we remain aware of what is happening elsewhere in the country, and elsewhere in the world.  It is a hard time for so many people right now, and everyone needs a bit of cheer. A garden is a place for a moment of peace and beauty.

No matter how carefully you plan, or how many plants you buy, or how much effort you invest, the results are never quite perfect.  There is always the chaos factor involved.    Things go as they go, and often in their own time and in their own way.

There is more cold weather coming, we hear, with a few more freezing nights ahead.  Western Virginia has snow today.   My mother and I used to argue over when it was safe to buy and set out bedding plants for the coming season.  I wanted to buy when the selection was best early in the season, and she always cautioned to wait until late April or early May.  She grew up between West Virginia and western Virginia, and she has a good track record of getting it right.

But when I found the zonal geraniums yesterday at our local garden center, I couldn’t resist.  They had exactly the color I’ve been waiting for and never could find last spring.  I didn’t even try to resist the growing display of spring plants and filled a couple of flats with herbs and more perennials, too, before good sense prevailed.  Sometimes you must seize the moment.  They’ll be just fine in the garage for a night or three.  At least we’ll have them when the time is right to plant them out.

Blooming blueberries have caught the attention of our bees.

I’ve been researching guerilla gardening this week and making more seed bombs.  As it turns out, there is a long history of wrapping seeds in soil and clay before planting them.  These methods go back into ancient times and have only been revived more recently.  A seed bomb, or ball, protects the precious seeds, and keeps them in place, until conditions are right for germination. 

Our elders were wise in the ways of the world. They knew how rarely conditions are ‘perfect’ and so engineered a little insurance for their seeds and for themselves.  I’m interested in how restoration ecologists and naturalists can use seed balls to reintroduce native species, including trees, in disturbed areas.

We find changes in the garden day to day as spring transforms everything.  The Japanese painted ferns appeared this week.   More and more perennials have awakened with new growth; and so have the weeds surrounding them.  There is always more to do.  Things are never quite ‘perfect.’ And neither are we.  And in springtime, alive with hope and possibility, ‘good enough’ can be just fine.

“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.” Malcom Bane

Narcissus ‘Tahiti’

With appreciation to The Propagator, who hosts Six on Saturday each week.

You might enjoy my new series of posts, Plants I Love That Deer Ignore.



  1. Perfection sometimes happens in the landscapes of forests, where there is no one around to see it. When I expanded my imperfect garden into the forest, it was necessary to work around some of the perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tony, I love that point of view about the ‘perfection’ of nature. It seems we humans can generally find a way to mess things up, given the opportunity. But the trees know exactly what they are doing! I’m in a bit of shock and need to share this with someone who will understand. I was in my favorite greenhouse today in the Richmond area and found a gorgeous new Alocasia. It was all in shades of cream, yellow, and chartreuse with a broken pattern, much like a Colocasia ‘Mojito.’ I picked it up to admire it, see the name, and get a better look. This was about a 10″-12″ potted plant, mind you. The price was $314.99. I was really shocked at high prices today generally, but that much for an Alocasia absolutely grabbed my attention. I hope that all is well with you, e

      Liked by 1 person

      • Some of those Alocasias are ridiculously expensive, and some people believe that they must necessarily be better than the less expensive sorts. What annoys me about such expense is that most of such commodities are no more difficult to grow than the commodities that I used to grow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are several new varieties of Alocasia available recently, which is great because they are easy to grow and do well for us here. But the prices are often on the high side- $20.00 or more for a 4″-6″ pot. I always assumed it was that they are in short supply and hard to source. One of my favorite Alocasias is ‘Stingray.’ It is such an unusual leaf. I have one on order to pick up next week, and for less than $10.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some of the prices are merely what the suppliers can get away with. They know that there are some who want to be the first to acquire them. I remember when ‘Sweet Musette’ bearded iris was first introduced, and single rhizomes cost $48 during the first season. They cost about $6 afterward.


      • You are so right. Last spring, the new Dryopteris selection ‘Jurassic Park’ was $20 or more in all of the catalogs and online sites. Our local garden center had it for $6.95 for a healthy quart size by the fall, priced the same as all of their other ferns. Patience is a virtue in all things….

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