The case of the disappearing…

…Purple Ajuga

OK — who can tell me how a whole flat of purple ajuga can just disappear?

I planted said flat last fall — all 48 or so little plantlets — spread in the shade garden and under the holly trees out back. Seemed like an endless task.

This spring…gonzo.

I know I’ve fallen victim to empty plant-tag promises before, but ajuga is universally known as a hardy, can’t-hurt-me, full-sun-to-full-shade groundcover.

So where did it go?

Groundhogs? Rabbits? Squirrels?

Please bring it back. No questions asked.

…”Hardy” Mums

Every fall, I dutifully plant the mums I’ve purchased and enjoyed for a couple weeks. I plant them well before they stop blooming. Well before frost.

Every spring, nada. Nothing. Nary a sprout.

Maybe I don’t fully understand the meaning of the word “hardy.”

…Coral Bells

Former “Plant of the Year” my foot. I can’t keep coral bells (heuchera) alive to save my life. Every year…limping along (if alive at all), whether purple, green, or fancy yellow-orange. Whether sun or shade or some of each (I keep moving them in desperation). “Reliable perennial” indeed.


I was fortunate last fall to find a flat of ‘Big Blue’ liriope on the clearance table at Lowe’s garden center at a ridiculously low price — and it wasn’t dead, or even half dead. Nursery sites describe it as “very easy to grow and tough as nails.” Great! I planted the 15 or so plants under the magnolia out front, and they hung in all winter. Then, last week, I noticed the foliage had died back and they weren’t looking so good. No wonder. Seems something had pulled them right out of the ground. I stuck a few back in (still in my sick state, I didn’t have much energy), and vowed to come back for a closer look. But I forgot this past weekend and I’m not confident the 87-degree temps didn’t do them in. Really — what the hell? (I also found a small astilbe out back that something had pulled out of the ground. What the hell?)

Apparently it’s not enough that I must constantly battle the black death emanating from my thumb. Other-worldly forces seem to be conspiring against me as well.

The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature
are the terms used in fairy books: charm, spell, enchantment.
They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery.
~ G. K. Chesterton