Larkspur Lessons

Below is an old 2011 post on the request of my friend Beth that I do a post on this tall beauty.  I had hoped to do an updated post....still do....but Blogger is acting up and won't let me post new images.  Ah well....enjoy this past post in the mean time.   

As you well know, my friends, the garden is a great teacher.  I, however, am not always a great student, having to learn the same gardening lessons over and over again.

I returned last week from an eight-day trip to Indiana. (Not so long in people time, but decidedly lengthy in garden chronology.  In my mind, our gardens are not unlike cats and dogs in this respect,  having their own definition and duration of  time and life span.  I submit to you,  fellow gardeners, the concept of  'garden-years'.  So while away only eight days, I assure you, it was much, much longer in garden-years.  Certain plants, longingly awaited, completed their entire bloom cycle during my absence.  Baby weeds reached full adulthood in days.  Sigh.)

But I digress. 

This week, my larkspur is doing the teaching.

Year after year, I write in my garden journal, usually with a great many exclamation points "Don't let the larkspur get out of hand...thin when young...don't let it take over and crowd out the other plants!!!!!"

And then I do it anyway.  This year being no exception.

In my defense, given the drought of last winter, there was a dearth of poppies and other self-seeders that usually accompany the larkspur, creating a lovely composition and preventing the larkspur from getting a little too heavy-handed.  But this year, absent its companions,  too much larkspur went undisciplined, and so I am re-learning:

Lesson 1:  Anything growing where you don't want it to grow is a weed. If you don't remove it or transplant it, you will suffer the consequences.

Which leads me quite quickly to 

Lesson 2:  In a small garden,  too much of a good thing is still too much. 

I love larkspur, I really do.  But it can become quite the thug, bullying out other colors and textures and scents...leaving less room and resources for the other blossoms that want their all too short time in the sun and spring.

And my larkspur gets tall.  Very tall.  Reminding me of

Lesson 3:  Stake towering plants when young, BEFORE they are laid low by strong winds or driving rain.  BEFORE their little flowery heads are eating dirt.  BEFORE you are kicking yourself that your once stately and towering stems  have been brought low...your spirits along with them.

Failing to heed these admonishments this year has resulted in much work and self-flagellation as I rip out the now-spent larkspur and rethink the empty spaces they leave in their wake.

More importantly, I am reminded of the most salient, all-encompassing lesson of all.

True in the garden, true in my parents' Indiana home, true in life.

Lesson 4:  At important stages in a garden as well as a life

it's not what you keep

but what you choose to take out that makes all the difference.

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