There is good change and there is “bad” change. Either way, change usually requires a bit of an effort, for one must change how they think as well. Changing the how of our thinking can be more difficult than actually making a change.

Intentional Change

One would think we gardeners would be the worlds’ best at change. After all, we seek to change our gardens almost daily. We intentionally set out to change our gardens and our view. We are always adding, taking away, nipping and tucking, digging and transplanting.

Unintentional Change

Then there is nature and the changes it brings to our gardens without our prior approval. Plants die from lack of rain, or too much rain. It can be too hot or too cold. A beautiful plant and much-desired plant turns into a thug and strangles its lovely little neighbor. These are the changes that are “bad” for they destroy our illusion of control, forcing us react to change.

Change Comes Calling

Change came calling to my gardens this year as it does to all gardens. But, when it happens to me and mine it feels different.

Dying Tree

A native species clematis

Being a shade gardener, when a shrub or tree dies, it is a threat to the very nature of the way I garden. This year I had one of three dogwoods I transplanted 20 years ago die after leafing out. It provided a canopy for perennials and shrubs as well as a major focal point. The shade is sorely missed.

But, I am trying to see it as an opportunity. I have transplanted 2 clematis to scramble up into the dead limbs, adding bloom and foliage. Now that I do not have to be concerned with its root system, more perennials can find a home along a path. Space opened up for a new shrub. I wanted some new space to work in Primula, Heuchera and ferns.

Fall Blooming Anemone

For some years my Fall Blooming Anemone in 4 different locations have had the foliage completely stripped by blister beetles. I have sprayed in the past, but gave up for they just keep on coming back. The plants do go on to bloom, but lacking leaves. New foliage does form just in time to get hit by fall frosts. I am giving up on them, digging them out and replacing with blooming shrubs. Another opportunity to do research and visit garden centers.

Limb fell in yard

In the last storm wind and rain caused a large limb to fall on the lawn. Close inspection showed the limb was hollow and had several holes made by birds. Saved me the trouble of climbing the tree and cutting out the limb. Turns out it was a piece of a puzzle. The piece that fit perfectly along the edge of a path lined by flat stones where rains were washing soil where I walked. I dug a shallow trench and dropped the limb in among existing perennials and ferns.

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Conference group meeting

Conference group meeting

A conference is defined as a meeting for the interchange of views. Symposium is a conference where various speakers discuss a particular topic. Meeting is a coming together. At one time it was understood that conference, symposium, and meeting meant a physical presence at a particular date, place and time. Today, of course, there are ways too numerous to mention on how to meet without ever leaving ones home physically. Many avenues exist to collectively meet in the digital world. And, if you cannot meet digitally by coming together at a date and time then I can stream live to individuals who want to listen, watch. I used emphasis on the word live as an indicator that I am scratching my head on this term. Think about it for a few seconds. How can I be live all over the world whenever you get around to listening/watching my talk?

I am aware that not everyone can travel at the same time to physically be present at an event. Schedules in life, the cost of travel and admittance, are a few more reasons to prevent attendance. So, some who really want to attend will not be able to be there when the first speaker steps up to the podium. There, you say, is where virtual reality, live streaming, enters the picture. There, I say, is where a point is missed.

As convenient, as inclusive, as live steaming can be, it does not replace face-to-face reality. When traveling to give a presentation, I am not exactly thrilled to be on the road, or sleeping in a motel room, no matter how great. But, once I get there all the inconveniences are forgiven and forgotten. There is nothing like the experience of a crowd of gardeners in one room.

Rhetorical questions: Can you handshake a fellow gardener you have not seen in 5 years finding how pleasing it is to see that person once more? Can you be warmly pleased to have gardeners give you a hug and very large, warm, smile? You could ask me question while I am on live streaming and I could answer them. But, could you stop me at the refreshment table and ask your question with your hand on my arm? There is no replacement for standing inside the 3 foot circle with another gardener and trying to chat over the background noise of 175 other gardeners talking at the same time. Can you go out to dinner after the event with special gardening friends you do not get to see often?

Digital conferences are great tools to augment, but certainly not replace, the reality of physically being there.

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When the box arrives there is a second form of anticipation I call the Christmas rush… the rush of feelings of anticipation while carefully cutting the box open to see the new arrivals. Gently unwrapping each roll of paper to see the condition and health, the size, of the new prize. Standing the containers up and arranging the new perennials on a table to be admired, and have one’s feeling of anticipation relieved. They arrived, they are safe, and they are mine.

Next an afternoon to give each arrival a permanent home in the garden, hopefully matching the conceived arrangement. Safely in their new bed, a blanket of mulch is pulled over them while they sleep off the stress of travel and transplant.


The third form of anticipation is the quiet and long-suffering wait until next spring arrives and green noses begin to pop through the blanket of mulch. I know I will begin my pacing paths in the garden come late winter, not able to wait until spring, watching to see my labors and anticipation rewarded.

Finally the Plants

This fall my mind’s eye has a vignette of

  • choices
  • Birdhouse Care
  • Digging into Anticipation
  • Interesting Times