Plants Lost and Found
In the fall of 2016, I planted 5 Hoary Vervain (Verbena hastata) in the Driveway Border. The following spring and throughout 2017, I continued to look for them, but to no avail. I assumed that they had wasted away to oblivion for some reason or another.
Then this year, what do I see? Hoary Vervain, that’s what. (This is another plant that needs a new common name. Hoary Vervain sounds like a ghost who haunts wine cellars. But that’s a rant for different day.)
Hoary Vervain is not a high impact plant. But it’s blue and it’s a larval host for common buckeye butterflies, so I wanted some. Not every plant should be extra zippy.
It must have been growing inconspicuously (or maybe not at all) above ground while building up its roots. Then this year it makes its mildly dramatic entrance.
I had a similar experience with Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa). The first year I couldn’t even find it. Now it has made an appearance, though it looks like it won’t bloom or reach its full size (4-6′) until next year. It’s about 3′ right now.
This gives me hope for the several species (I will NOT admit how many) that I planted this year or last and that I can now find no sign of. Either they have wasted away or they are in hiding, preparing to make a grander entrance next year.
Some of this is my own fault. I have developed a certain hubris over the fact that most of my plants almost never need supplemental watering. And so I forget that new plants need a little coddling, especially during a spell of hot and dry weather. The rainy spring we had reinforced my overconfidence.
Take the Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andewsii) I planted this spring. I thought it must be hiding under the leaves of the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), but instead it seems to have withered away. But perhaps it has only gone dormant? A man can hope.
I suppose this could be an argument for buying larger plants from a local nursery as opposed to ordering smaller plants from a mail order operation. But then, you’re so much more likely to find exactly what you want via mail order.
Have you had plants come back to you after you thought they were gone for good?