For the gardener, spring is about plants returning to active growth from their winter dormancy. The earliest plants to do so inspire a special jolt of happiness.
Then there are the perennial plants that don’t emerge from the soil until later in the season. For me, these can be a great cause of anxiety. Are they coming back or not? Do they just want to make a grand entrance? Or have they succumbed to winter cold and wet, or perhaps frost heave? Thoughtless of them not to let me know.
Right at the moment there is a sizable patch of Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) in the Driveway Border that refuses to show itself. I’ve even gently probed the soil with my fingers in search of buds, but no luck. It’s worrying because another patch of the same plant has been visible for a week or more – though that second batch gets a longer dose of afternoon sun.
The missing Butterflyweed is well established, and showed no signs of poor health. I’m already thinking about how to replace them, but I don’t want to jump the gun. Butterflyweed roots do not like to be disturbed, so for now I’m forcing myself to remain patient, not an easy thing.
Meantime, there are some winter losses I can confirm. For example, I’ve lost two ‘Inspiration’ Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum). Two others have come back, one looking more vigorous than the other.
Last year the Culver’s Root was infested by Four-Lined Plant Bug. I suppose the missing plants were weakened beyond recovery. This year, fortunately, there is no sign of the Four-Lined little monsters.
Also missing are four of the five ‘Arizona Sun’ Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia aristata) I planted in the parkway Lamppost Border. Here I think the culprits are the piles of snow dumped onto the parkway by snowplows and snowblowers. As they melted, these probably made for more winter wetness than the Gaillardia could tolerate.
Of course, the upside of a dead plant is that it provides an opportunity to buy a new live one.
Do you have any perennials that perished over winter?