Mother's Garden: How to find plants that are survivors

Ruth Foster

There is a week in May when the whole world seems to be in flower.

Trees overhead. Bushes below. They guard the tulips and myriad of flowers that just appear each spring. They come tumbling one after the other, each glorying in its special moment of beauty. Perennial survivors they are.

My local garden club is having its perennial plant sale. This is the one place where you can find true "survivor" plants, those genetically enabled to live in the area and prosper.

Why at a garden club sale? Because these good local gardeners dig and donate plants that they like AND that have spread. Then they have too many so they share their good genetic stock. Frail and sickly plants never grow in abundance, so they don't appear in the yearly sale.

Purchased perennials are scientifically grown in climate controlled greenhouses by commercial nurseries so they look really nice, green with big buds. But the question is how will they flower next year and forever after. And there's no knowing where the original genetic stock came from.

I have killed more plants than I care to count, but certain ones always come up, then flower, and more important, multiply. Better in some years than others, but volunteers and side shoots or seedlings always appear.

My mother's plants are at least a half century old, yet they continue to flower, though sometimes in unexpected places. And the blossoms come with memories. My other "survivors" were gifts from friends and relatives. Some were from old gardeners who wanted a home for their favorite flowers' genes to live on.

So enjoy this incredible yearly May flower show that Mother Nature provides for us and maybe even add a few "survivor" perennials from local gardeners to your garden.

Someone to whom I gave a bush wrote, "It promotes the benefits and joys of sharing our neighbors' plantings." In a way, that says it all.

Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening information can be found on her Web site: www.mothersgarden.net.

Belmont Citizen-Herald