Mysteriously, I Am Rewarded With Impatiens
A Camellia story.
Believe it or not, as close to healthy as it has ever been:
Eleven years ago, a few months after the initial completion of our landscape, the contractor dropped by to check on everything.
"How are those camellias growing for you," he asked, rather warily.
"Okay. They bloomed," I said, slightly puzzled at his manner and expression.
We moved on to other topics. It was not until later I got the distinct vibe from that brief question that the Camellias had been of iffy quality, and he was relieved they had not died. As it turned out, none ever prospered. We removed nearly all of them. I put two in pots out of hope, or out of compassion. Hydrangeas that went in where the Camellias were removed grew and thrived. And thrived further.
A young rooted cutting:
As so often happens in a garden, some plants get forgotten, or because they lack beauty, they are deliberately overlooked, even in prominent locations. The human eye does its own clever editing of the world.
The poor Camellias have struggled on our patio for years now. Five or six years ago, Impatiens seedlings appeared in the pots, over the summer growing large enough to hide the sadness of the Camellias. After six or so months, when the Santa Ana winds blasted through and shriveled the Impatiens, I would yank them. When the autumn winds ceased and the winter rains began, new seedlings would appear, and the cycle would repeat. There have been plenty of seedlings to fill any empty, somewhat shady spot that needed filling. Thus, my wretched potted Camellias became an unplanned, unsought Impatiens nursery. Some years the Impatiens seedlings are better than others, but they regularly appear without effort or cost, while the Camellias continue to struggle, and the Hydrangeas wax ever grander.
Life is not fair, even for plants. The Camellias we dug and discarded had bent, tightly circled root systems. They spent too much time in small pots before being planted in my garden. Once here, they never had a chance. I've showed a couple of the unfortunates some compassion, misguided compassion, without doubt. Odd how we do that, we humans. We are both destroyers and nurturers, often simultaneously.
My Camellias are hopeless and I should dump them.
I believe though that even the smallest act of compassion is not wasted, that it is an act of civilization, just as gardening is, a finger in the dike holding back the essential savagery of the world.
Mysteriously, I am rewarded with Impatiens.