Sunday, December 27, 2015

Patience Pays Off

Sometimes (maybe, often) I find myself an impatient gardener. I look at the picture on the plant tag and want the plant to look like that immediately. So I do everything I can to to jump start it: amending the soil, adding root stimulator, fertilizing, mulching, watering, etc. And then, like a mother with newborn baby, I check it often to see how much it has grown.  But the old gardening adage that says a plant sleeps the first year, creeps the second year, and leaps the third year was coined by a wise gardener. It seems that regardless of what a well-intentioned gardener does, you can't rush Mother Nature. I'm reminded of this lesson often.

Case in point is the Nandina domestica 'Murasaki', sold under the trade name Flirt Nandina. I loved this nandina at first sight because it has the wispy, almost fern-like foliage and nice red berries of the large common nandina but with a more diminutive size. It's suppose to mature to 1-2 ft tall and wide. At my spring job at the Dabney Nursery, I often mention it when customers ask for recommendations for small garden areas.

Jack and I planted two Flirts in our garden about 3 years ago. Over the course of the next several years, the plant did not grow at all. In fact, it seemed to decline, looking a little more sparse and scraggly each year. When this happens, impatient gardeners like me are usually motivated to do more: water more, fertilize more, etc. Or maybe the plant is not happy in its location and needs to be moved to a better spot (or to the compost pile). But I resisted the urge to do something and just waited. You never know what is going on underneath the soil. Meanwhile, back at my spring job at the Dabney Nursery, my enthusiasm for recommending the Flirt  had dampened a bit and this spring came with the caution, "It's a beautiful plant but seems slow to establish."

Then suddenly this summer, Flirt began to thrive. It looks almost as good as the plant tag. I have high hopes for next spring. 

Nandina domestica 'Musacari' 

I don't know if my experience with the Flirt nandina is typical or not. Maybe its slow start was unique to our garden. (If you have one, please post a comment on your experience.) Even if its slow start is typical, have patience. Flirt is worth the wait. 

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