Any given year, there are things that work in the garden, and things that don't.
Earlier this summer, I chalked up the alyssum I planted in the cottage garden as one of the things that didn't work this year. The plants were kind of straggly-looking when I put them in, and they never seemed to take hold.
After the first Weed Whacker Incident, the plants disappeared, and that, I thought, was that.
Tribune Chronicle / Mary Beth Wyko
Though I’m not usually a fan of marigolds, I?let this lone flower stay in my hanging basket.
But late last week, I noticed a flower I hadn't seen before peeking out between the leaves of my revived Rozanne geranium. One alyssum plant had survived and bloomed against the odds.
It wasn't the billowing mound of snowy blooms I'd been attracted to in the seed catalogue, but it was a pleasant surprise to see something that I'd thought was dead and gone had stuck around after all.
Gardening can be full of surprises. Birds can take seeds and deposit them in places that might seem inhospitable to plants - or places where gardeners may have planted something else.
Every year, we get calls at the Tribune from people telling us about tomato plants growing in cracks in the sidewalk, and not too far from my house, a sunflower plant grew where some sidewalk work was done in the spring.
My miracle alyssum plant wasn't the only surprise I had in the garden this year. As I mentioned in a previous column, I picked up a hanging basket at a local garden center this spring. I was drawn to the mix of small, petunia-like orangey-peach and purple flowers. (They're not petunias - I believe they're calibrachoa, also known as "Million Bells.")
As the summer progressed, though, a foreigner appeared among the little flowers - a big, orange marigold. I'm not a huge fan of marigolds - frankly, their color doesn't appeal to me - but I let this stray stay. The contrast between the big, showy marigold and the more delicate calibrachoa amused me.
And the garden produced yet another surprise for me last week. My cosmos bloomed earlier this summer when the plants were still relatively small. After those flowers dropped, the plants kept growing, and the large, spiky plants towered over the rest of my container garden.
Then the plant decided to bloom again. I've got a big, showy pink flower blooming now, and there's another bud waiting in the wings.
I can't wait to see if my garden has any more surprises in store for me as the summer winds down.
Share your gardening tips and tricks with me at firstname.lastname@example.org