Our gardens are full of plants we absolutely love and in this mix of our most loved are plants that carry a very special, personal meaning. These are the plants we want to live forever.
If you have read any of my previous articles, it would be rather easy to determine I am a sentimental gardener. My garden is more than just a garden; it is a play, symphony, drama, solace or even a literary masterpiece. Contained within are plants that evoke a special memory or provides a connection to a loved one or a place in time that has meaning in my life. When I left my Arizona garden for Colorado, I scrambled to find homes for these special plants and I feel blessed that many found wonderful homes. Jo has my purple robe. Maria and Sharon have my Peggy Martin Roses and the list goes on.
There were some I packed up and covered up for the arduous journey ahead. What a menagerie I must say! I don't have a physical photograph but in my mind I can still see the rows of pots nestled tightly together in the bed of my truck. It was October and though lovely and mild in Arizona, I was heading toward freezing temperatures. I covered with blankets and placed rocks all around to prevent the blankets from flying onto the highway.
The selection of plants included ivy I saved from my wife and my first apartment. I remember this ivy being completely out of place and I fell in love with its big leaves so one day, on a lark, I opted to take a cutting and just place it in a pot. Well, it rooted and the love affair began. There were my Australian violets and Viola odoratas which are by large my favorite species of plant. There were other small plants I had been given over the years but above all was Andrew's Ivy. You can read the original article about this plant here.
We made our way to Colorado and just a little over half way into the trip, we opted to stay in Las Vegas, New Mexico. This is a very charming town and for those reading, I definitely recommend seeing it for yourselves. There is a haunted hotel called the Plaza which is a nice place to stay complete with karaoke at night. I digress. The significance of this was that very evening it dropped below freezing and when I awoke and checked on the plants, there was a layer of frost covering the blankets. The ivies probably would not object that much to this but the orchid and violas certainly would. I lifted the blanket and sure enough there was some wilting on the violas and I feared the orchid may never recover. The ivies did look okay. I could not do much to remedy this so I recovered and felt blessed to have the sun beating down on the truck warming everything.
We crossed into Colorado, arriving in the small town of Trinidad later that day and snow was everywhere. I could not bring myself to look under the blanket anymore as the higher we travelled, the colder it got and snow was covering everything in the back of the truck. All I could do was hope for the best.
Several hours later we arrived in Denver and the weather was actually mild, all things considered. Before we unloaded the moving truck, we brought the plants upstairs to their new home in a bay window in our master bedroom. The day carried on and eventually we were unpacked and the task of settling in was at hand.
The days and weeks passed and I am pleased to say that at first we suffered only minimum losses. The orchid and the odoratas were gone. The plants that seemed to thrive were the ivies. While not completely surprising as these plants are very hardy, it was a definite relief. Then, it happened.
As I recollect this next series of events, all the emotion I felt then is rushing back again. One morning I woke up and I noticed white spots all over Andrew's Ivy. It was a fungus of some kind and it was covering nearly the entire plant. I applied a fungicide and it did not help. Could it be a bug of some sort? I never could find anything online that matched what was happening to my plant. It spread. Soon the other ivy had the same problem. Then the Australian violets started wilting. What was going on?! I lost the Australian violets and I feared I would lose the ivies. I opted to trim both down as far as I could and repot them in fresh new pots. I shook off as much of the old dirt as I could and then I prayed.
The larger ivy seemed to respond positively to this as did Andrew's ivy. I felt relief but it was to be short lived. One morning I woke and the new growth from Andrew's ivy shriveled. I just sat staring. This could not be. I cannot actually lose THIS plant. Not this one. Soon, it was just a stick. I removed it as carefully as I could and placed the whole thing in a vase filled with dirt. My thinking - right, wrong or indifferent - is that if I keep it wet enough, the plant will come back to life. That was over a year ago.
I buried the stick outside in a pot with the hope that perhaps one day there may be a miracle of resurrection. There is yet to be any such miracle. Still, there is an element of hope. Plants have a remarkable way of surviving and perhaps one day, I just may see a small ivy leaf emerge.
About Benjamin Hill
I am an old fashioned gardener. To me nothing is finer than the romantic cottage gardens. The colours and forms create a symphony to delight all the senses. I love to tell a good story and my garden provides my inspiration. I am blessed to have such a beautiful son and I enjoy teaching him to love and appreciate the goodness, peace and fulfillment tending a garden can bring. Finally, I shall be forever grateful to Alan Titchmarsh for inspiring me to get out there and make something out of a little bit of earth.