From the producer: May 24, 2008

“Perhaps more than most, the farmer or the gardener understands that his control is always something of a fiction, depending as it does on luck and weather and much else that is beyond his control. It is only the suspension of disbelief that allows him to plant again every spring, to wade out into the season’s uncertainties . . . (The gardener) eventually learns that every advance in his control of the garden is also an invitation to a new disorder.” Excerpts from Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire.

I read this section just a few hours before thundering hail had us leaping out of bed. This prickly pear cactus left his umbrella in the car.

prickly pear hail damage

From hail and wind to aphids and grasshoppers that fell our work, I figure that gardeners are the biggest risk takers out there. We jump out into the wilds of our yards and take a chance. Our struggles simply renew our dedication to figuring it out: how to make a garden. Just when we think we have a clue, we realize that we’re merely silent partners in the overall corporation.

But in my case on hail night, aside from general cleanup, that cactus and this caladium I showed you last week were the most severe casualties.

caladium hail damage

My car Scooter got the worst of it, but at least a tree didn’t fall on him, or crash through our kitchen, and we didn’t lose power like some of our viewers. His dings, like his headliner punch, will be part of his story.

On taking chances, I took one a few years ago when I couldn’t resist the latest thing, a Salvia greggii ‘Teresa,’ and planted it in the bed alongside Amelia’s fence. There’s really too much shade for her, but she seems happy, and the bees and butterflies are, too.

Salvia greggii 'Teresa'

To the left is a Salvia leucantha, with Hamelia patens (fire bush or hummingbird bush) just now returning from winter dormancy. In a month or so, it will be 4′ tall, and as the heat comes on, flower with distinctive coppery red. They’d both prefer more sun, too; in fact, they’d like as much sun as they can get their hands on. But they’re hanging in there.

Teresa, leucantha, hamelia patens

My little scheme was for a fall ensemble: Teresa’s soft pink and leucantha’s lavender flowers-and by then silvery foliage-against Hamelia’s fire.

hamelia patens flower

Just to the right is Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’.

Salvia 'Indigo Spires'

Originally, I planted it in too much shade under the Chinese pistache (now home to the shrimp plants). I moved it out to the end of that bed, and then it got too much sun. Fed up, I dug it out and was heading for the compost pile. On the way, I saw a blank space underneath the Rusty blackhaw viburnum at the end of Amelia’s fence bed. Since I hate to send anyone to the compost pile, I scrabbled out a hole and threw it in. Bingo! It found its perfect, happy place, where it’s grown like crazy for two years. Indeed, nature is in charge; all we have to do is listen.

This week’s program was inspired by a viewer’s question about hostas. Jeff Yarbrough from The Emerald Garden gives us a tour of shade-lovers, from hostas and hydrangeas to other lovely textures. Knowledgeable plant lovers like Jeff remind me how lucky we are to have our locally based nurseries.

Here’s a hydrangea I saw on the Windsor Park Garden tour. I certainly hope to tape this garden, and get you the scoop on this gardener’s success with this huge stand of them!


On CTG’s tour this week, we visit Brent Henry, a talented new gardener who figured things out pretty darned fast for his shady space (and is planting more, I know, even as I write this!). Not only did he inspire me, I got a good laugh when he commented that CTG gardens “tend to have cats in them.” I kidded him that he should have borrowed one. But really, I assure you, I have NOTHING to do with the cats that show up in our videos!

Speaking of, here’s Cedric supervising dinner.


Seven years ago, he showed up on the patio and decided he was home. Like gardening, there are other life-changing events out of our control, and Cedric is definitely one of them. And, when he figures out how to blog with kitties, he’ll be sending one to Brent very soon (not his own, of course).

I love the pictures you’re sending, too, and your comments, so keep ’em coming! Linda