Panic stations Posted on March 17, 2014

I should have been ready for planting time, with all my plans laid and drawn up, plants ordered and a serene sense of purpose reigning in the garden. Then suddenly it’s here, a good month early, everything springing into growth, Rassells nursery over the road a jewel box of newly-arrived temptations. Plans? I’m borrowing their barrow to ferry over far more plants than I can reasonably fit in.

I’ve strained my back crouching in our restricted spaces, shoe-horning campanulas among anemones among veronicastrums among geraniums. Verbenas, too. Oh, and of course white foxgloves. I pounce on what looks like a clear space only to remember that’s where a hosta lies buried. Magnolia petals rain down on me as I dig (in this temperature the flowers won’t last long).

It’s the usual question: what shrub will grow in a droughty two-foot space at the foot of a sizable sycamore, tolerate its sooty drip, perfume the spring, flower in summer and flare up in autumn? I know the answer; accepting it is another matter, though.

What is surprising as I plant is how few roots I find. Surely the roses, hydrangeas, ivies, pileostegias, clematis, cotoneaster and the rest of the dense hamper on the walls forage far and wide for moisture. Often, within feet of a substantial climber, I find quite open and available soil. I quietly hope all the roots are next door.

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