In Remembrance of Plants Passed

I sometimes wonder if it seems like I have a perfect garden. Like I never lose plants and everything grows well for me. That’s mostly true, but it’s also true that I’ve lost quite a few plants over the last 5 years, as any gardener would expect, and I’ve got pictures so I can always remember them. Here are some of my favorites that bit the dust and are now compost for another garden… And the Wheel turns…

The first one is a real loss. It’s the big Cherry we had in the back yard. It was dying and falling apart so we had to take it out this spring. It was a tragedy but what could we do? It was clearly dying and there was less  foliage each year. We had an arborist take it out so we didn’t hurt ourselves or hurt the plants underneath. It’s a huge loss and I miss it badly but I planted a new Cryptomeria in its place which will fill in nicely and even get bigger in time.

I’ve replaced these Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress since they died but it’s a strange story. I took the dying one into the nursery where I got it and they said it hadn’t gotten enough water! I was shocked as I water so carefully. But I guess these dried out and they went into conifer shock from which they can never recover. You know, when they turn that funny color of dead? That’s what they did. So sad…

This one lit up underneath the apple for some time. It’s a form of Coral Bells called Citronelle and was a highlight under the tree. But it got crowded out by the wild strawberry I planted in there. I’ve since removed all of it and don’t even have a picture to show it. I’m glad it went tho. It was way too invasive and when plants kill other  plants they have to go…

This lavender was just a bit too tender for our winter one year and it died then. I replaced it with a hardier variety of lavender. It’s doing well now. The next is one of my saddest ones. It’s a huge Ceanothus Julia Phelps that got killed by the excess water in the area where it was planted. Partly the neighbors broken water line but also just too wet an area which I didn’t realize. It would have been beautiful!

This Leopard Lily is a native of the PNW and grew well for a couple of years and then just disappeared. I don’t know why but I miss it. Next is a Rhododendron Ginny Gee that did so well at first but gradually just bit it. I think it didn’t get enough water too as it was on a bright corner of the garden in front. I had to put in something that will stay hardy so I got a Kleims’ Hardy Gardenia to replace it.

This is another huge loss. It’s the apple tree that was in the front of the yard. It was slowly dying as was the cherry and the apples were lousy so we decided to replace it with a Japanese Katsura tree. It’s gonna be much nicer in a few years but it sure looks bare out there now. It’s a sad loss for us both…

This is a native thrift, or Armeria. It got crowded out by the invasive Redwood Sorrel. It’s nice but it sure does take over. This Thrift had some nice flowers on it for a couple of years before it died. Next it a simple annual called Plum Crazy Oxalis. It did well for a year and then that was it but it was so pretty at the time I had to show it. Love the purple with the yellow flowers!

This is another sad loss to me. It’s a Subalpine Fir that is native to the Cascade mountains here in Washington. It did well for a couple of years and then just went south for some unknown reason. I dunno why as it was well established. Plants just die sometimes tho and this was one of them. I replanted it with a Podocarpus macropylla that will get pretty good size as well. It’ll be alright but I miss this tree.

This is a funny little plant called Aussie astroturf. It got ripped out by the crows. Who knows why they do what they do but I guess they liked it for nesting or something. They decimated it which is why I have the sticks in it to hold it down. Didn’t work… Oh well. It ‘s cute and I may still try it again some day…

This one really made me cry. It was a Mountain Laurel called Raspberry Glow and it was blooming like crazy and then it got a rot and just died in about a month. No reason for the blight but it sure did a number on this plant. I feel so sad about this one cause it was so special and it’s hard to grow and I’d done so well for so long. Sigh. Sometimes it hurts more than others…

This is one of many ferns I lost. It’s a Holly fern and did well for a year or two and then just died like so many others. I replaced it with a different fern and it’s doing well. The next one is a weird one. It’s a volunteer that I left tho I usually don’t do that. But it was so pretty and got so huge it even had lovely white flowers in the summer. It’s an annual but I’m not sure which one. Very beautiful tho but I had to take it out eventually to restore the look of the landscape.

Here’s a Hinoki that didn’t make it called Nana lutea. It gets about 2-3 feet all around and would have been lovely in its spot. It also grew well for 3 years and then just turned that dead look confers get and died on me. I tried to save it in the greenhouse like I’ve done with other things  but to no avail. But some make it in there, like the Japanese painted fern. It’s doing great after a spell in the greenhouse.

The Valley Valentine Pieris was buried alive by squirrels. They dug up a whole bunch of soil over its roots before I noticed and then it was gone. Really too bad as it gets quite large and would have been wonderful where it was. It did bloom well for a few years but then it was it’s time and it went away. Too bad..

This is a little heath called Ruby Glow that only lasted for a couple years before it just died. Again I don’t know why but it did it. It would have gotten to a foot or two big but now I’ll never know. That’s one of the things that bothers me about losing plants. I never get to see what they would become. It’s a sad loss to a gardener like me who loves his plants.

This is a Royal fern which gets to 5 or 6 feet and I was so looking forward to seeing it in the back of the garden someday. But it only lasted a year and then it bit it. Who knows why? I say that a lot I guess but it’s true it’s a mystery most of the time, at least to me…

Next is a Rhododendron called Abereconway from England. It lasted a couple of years  then went the way of all things and died away. It had lovely white flowers on it and turned this great red color in the fall. I replace to with a small growing Rhodie called Bow Bells that is doing well now.

You’d think I could grow Maidenhair fern but I guess I can’t. I’ve tried about 4 or 5 plants of it and they all died on me. I dunno, maybe I need to try a new variety. We’ll see, but I’m leaning more toward evergreen ferns these days to keep the green all year so I don’t know if I’ll try one or not.

This was one of the first things we lost. A Mahonia Charity, it was beautiful but got too much water oh the north side of the garden. It’s right on the neighbors broken pipe and it flooded out bad. I have another one now that it in a better place and doing well, but it doesn’t change color as well. Trade offs I guess. You get one or another.. it all balances out I think.

These last two are sorta cheats since they’re biennials and would die anyway in a couple of years. But I included them because I liked them a lot. The first is a Russell hybrid Lupine that got 4 feet tall when it was in full bloom. And the last is simple garden Pansy that kept coming back for 3 years till it gave up the ghost. It’s gone now but I remember it thru these pictures.

So that’s it. I’ve lost a lot more plants than this but I don’t seem to have pictures of them all or else I just have a bit too much information….;) I hope you enjoyed the Dead Plants Tour of the past. I sure did. It’s so good to see all of the plants I’ve put in and grown over the years. The photos of them as they grow are a treasured resource and commentary of what all we’ve done.

I keep a journal of all my plants and when I planted then and what they’ve done over the years. It and the photos keep me in touch with the past as well as seeing the possble futures. It’s sad to lose plants but it’s all part of the game when you garden. You have to accept it and get over it and move on. One way that I look at it is that every time I lose a plant I have space for something new!

That makes it alright with me. More or less. I still mourn them but I have so many wonderful plants in this garden that I have what I need and it’s all good. Loss is part of gardening and you have to take it when it comes. It’s sad but it’s all part of the Circle of Life that is moving thru all things, including our gardens…

Gone but not forgotten,

Steve

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14 responses to this post.

  1. When I purchased my 50 year old house 10 years ago there was a beautiful wheeping cherry. It was half dead. I tried to say it but it continued to die. I had to remove it after a few seasons. Gone to the graveyard of plants past!

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    • Sorry to hear about your cherry tree. I’m sure it was a nice one. It’s hard to lose old trees, but it does give you a chance to plant something new. Good luck to you and thanks for your comment!
      All the best,
      Steve

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  2. A comfortable place to be with Nature. Love it. 🙂

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  3. What a lovely tribute to your plants of the past time, and to Proust, who wrote, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

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    • You know I was thinking of you when I made that title. Just a little joke on my part, and you got it. Cool… 😉 What a great quotation from Proust too. Thank you so much for visiting me and commenting on this post.
      peace,
      Steve

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      • And also “The Wheel of Fortune” is the title of one of the chapters in my book, Parisian by Heart! So this post is all about me 🙂
        Thanks, Steve, for this post and all your wonderful photos.

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        • You’re most welcome. You have influenced and befriended me and I appreciate your comments and visits. So of course it’d be about you! (and Proust…) Great minds think alike, eh? Too cool! 😉
          best,
          Steve

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  4. I have lost plants over the years and when I look back at the garden in pictures from summers past then I remember them like a long lost friend. When I got to the end of your post and read how it is all part of the “great circle of life”…so true…makes me think of the old Harry Chapin song
    All my life’s a circle;
    But I can’t tell you why;
    Season’s spinning round again;
    The years keep rollin’ by.

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    • Keeping photos of your past gardening efforts is really a cool way to remember them. I’m glad you have your collection in pictures too. I see much of life as a Circle that keeps turning and especially in the natural world it’s so evident that it’s happening. It’s true in our lives too, as your song suggests. Things just keep on moving and we have to go with the flow…
      Thanks for visiting me!
      Steve

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  5. It’s lovely to see the beautiful people that these plants are, and your memories

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    • Thank you. It’s hard to lose plants you love but it’s all part of the cycle I guess. The wheel turns again, and in their places are new plants waiting to become themselves. It’s so exciting, even in the loss…
      peace,
      Steve

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  6. What a great idea–remembering all your plants! Thx for sharing!

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    • Thank you for your comment, and you’re welcome for the sharing. I dearly miss some of these plants and still wonder why they died. But a gardener has to accept loss and it’s all part of the Dance of Life… I wouldn’t have it any other way… 😉
      Steve

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