Sandra’s Angel Trumpet

Like me, some folks just can’t travel for the holidays. But we’ll miss the chaos of the airports, the horrible traffic, and the kids going through their presents like a buzz saw. But I always believed that home is where the heart is, so I’ll just be grateful that I have a home. So many do not.

I’ve given a home to about a bazillion plants over the past few years. Some endure to this day, like the Meyer Lemon Tree that I brought from my home in Illinois. There, it lived in a pot and was kept trimmed to a manageable size. I brought it in every winter. I actually trimmed it small enough to put in my car and brought it with me when I moved. I’ve literally given away hundreds and hundreds of lemons over the years.

Another immigrant from Illinois, which I had babied there indoors every winter, is my Angel Trumpet. I planted it along the front side of my house, and it now almost reaches the roof. This was taken just before the cold spell last year.

My little Magnolia ’Randy’ (from the “Little Girl” series) took to the south like she was Daisy Hazzard. Blooms enthusiastically every year!

Re-homing plants was not always so successful. Agapanthus are not hardy in Illinois, so a friend gave me the dozen plants she treated as annuals and replaced every year (her gardening budget was way way  bigger than mine) and brought them and planted along the sidewalk to my front door. They were just gorgeous for a couple of years, then the deer found them. The few survivors were planted in my backyard where they still reluctantly bloom every year. I don’t think they ever got over the shock of being eaten alive.

I was here part time for several years before I made the full move to the south, so every trip I took, my car was filled to the gunwales with live plants that I intended to plant here.    As time went on, before I actually began to buy plants, my backyard looked like a graveyard for dead and dying plants. These plants were northerners; totally unsuitable for the heat and humidity of the south and before long, I was left with almost nothing.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson, but the sad story doesn’t end here. I didn’t know that the box stores here sold plants that wouldn’t grow here. Caveat Emptor.

My dream of Peonies blooming every Memorial Day never came true. Lamb’s Ears, even treated as annuals, gasped and languished from the humidity. And of course, the big and beautiful hybrid tulips and daffodils don’t have a chance.

I used to be able to treat my very favorite flowers, the true lilies, as short term perennials – grateful even that I could have them for a few years. Now, dozens of bulbs are in my garage refrigerator, waiting their January planting, but I doubt that they will come back for more than a year. Climate change.

It’s sad but true; in gardening, experience is the best teacher. It’s also the most expensive and heartbreaking.  I’m so fey that I seldom save receipts, so when a $50 plant bites the dust, so to speak, I really feel hurt.

After 20 plus years in the South, like the song “Love the Girl You’re Near,” I’ve learned to love the plants that are here. Every year, I find a new favorite that will thrive here. It may be an immigrant (think Camellias) but as long as it’s not invasive, it’s welcome in my garden.