Perseverance and Resilience

Perseverance and Resilience

Something that struck me this year was the perseverance and resilience of plants. They really are amazing.

I’ve been noticing this more and more because of all the plants that I’ve had in pots and the lack of care they have received and yet they still staunchly trouped on.

My philosophy being if they die they die and if they live, they are the kind of plants I want in my yard.

Take for instance the hanging boxes with plants in them on the wall. I planted them in the spring with some inpatients and some alyssum.

inpatients and alyssum

Any day that I drove the car out of the yard this summer I would look up and see the three boxes and think to myself “I should really water these. I will do it when I get home“.

Upon coming home the gate would obscure the planters and there they would sit for another day.

Despise our hot rainless summer this year, I can remember giving those baskets a good soaking only once in June and that was it!

No water, no fertilizer, no tender loving care and they bloomed all summer long. Amazing.

Now it is the end of October and they are still showing colour.

But… I really should start at the beginning.

My goal this year (because they say it’s good to have a goal whoever “they” are) was to get all the plants that I had in pots out of them and planted into the ground.

Really… there were quite a few plants in pots that I had gotten or were given as presents over the years. And I mean years! Some of them had been in pots for at least six years again with no fertilizer but they did get water.

Most of these were grouped close by the water tap, so when I filled the birdbath they would get a sprinkle as well.

The first to be planted was actually last fall. A honeysuckle that was just a small bush in a pot for 5 years. This year it must have dug its roots deep into the soil and it shot up 3 times its height. It was simply impressive.

The soil it was planted in was well-drained, well… actually I would say that it was almost gravel as that is what our yard consists of. Gravel with a small layer of soil over the top and grass/weeds to finish it off.

No need to mow it in the summer as the grass dries and the weeds stay green.

But the honeysuckle survived, blossomed and turned its head towards the sun. The hummingbird got the full benefit of its nectar.

This year, some of the plants that I wanted to get in the ground included a pampas grass, some other type of ornamental grass, a rhododendron, an azalea, a yucca plant, and other assorted small cover plants that I can’t name.

So… after redoing the rose bed, we tackled the berm up behind as it was suffering from a bad case of the thistles.

It had originally been covered with bark mulch but over the years it had broken down into the soil and the weeds had taken over.

After pulling all the weeds, the next goal was to put down landscape cloth and recover it with fresh bark mulch and I thought what a perfect time to plant.

Getting out all the plants that I mentioned above I found spots, dug holes (mainly in very rocky soil) plopped in the plants after breaking up the root balls, gave them a little water and forgot about them.

No pampering for these babies!

And again… it was amazing. The plants thrived. Not only did they thrive but the azalea bloomed as well.

There they were up on a hot, dry hill with no water and they flourished. They were so happy to have a place to spread their roots even if it was around a rock or two.

About two weeks ago I planted a weigela that has tubular flowers on it during the summer. This plant hasn’t been moved in years and when I tried to pick up the pot it wouldn’t budge.

It had put a taproot through the little hole in the bottom right down into the soil below. I don’t know how deep it went, but the only thing I could do with it was to get the pruning shears to cut it off. So far it seems to be doing well in its new home.


The fig tree has a similar problem, but as it had more holes in the bottom of the pot, it was a little more firmly fixed to the ground. I gave it a severe root prune job and so far it’s still alive.

Today I planted my second to last potted plant. Tiger Lilies.

These tiger lilies were from someone who knew someone who gave them to Rob who gave them to me.

We’ve had them for 10 years in a ceramic pot in the yard, never watered, never fertilized and the soil has never been changed.

And every year the pot is a mass of orange lilies with darker orange dots.

When I went to take them out of the pot today, it was covered with moss and digging down through it I came upon about 20 snow white bulbs that varied from 1 inch to 2 inches around.

They are definitely stunted as I’ve seen ones that are as big as a fist in stores.

They are now happily or unhappily planted in the new garden bed that I created. We’ll have to see what next year brings in the way of flowers or if I shocked them too much by giving them a chance to spread.

In the backyard, we now have 3 pots left with plants in them. Two have mint in them (peppermint and spearmint) and they will always stay in pots as they are so invasive.

The other one is a pink pussy willow tree that has never had any pussy willows on it. This year the leaves started to fall off even though it’s right by the birdbath and I water it every day. Turns out the water was just flowing out as the pot is so full of roots that it wasn’t able to absorb anything.

By poking a few holes in the dirt or roots as it might be, it was able to absorb water again and ended up being a lovely bush that the birds liked to preen in after a bath. Still looking for the perfect spot to plant it.

These plants are tough, strong and resilient with a natural tendency to want to reproduce.

My garden is full of them… the plants that Heather couldn’t kill.


  1. Plants in Spain are hard to kill. We didn’t have rain for 7 years and plants still bloomed. Most plants here are as tough as nails. Bourganvillia for example. the roots are so deep and so long you can cur them down with a chainsaw to nothing, and in a couple of weeks they are off and growing again. Gardening here is more industrial I think. No finesse, no beds, no hanging pots. Just constant strong growth and lots of pruning and cutting. This weekend I plan to trim a 100 year old Carob tree. Dense wood, you have to climb it to cut it and you just know that what ever you cut down will make a pile 4 times the size of the tree when it was standing. But if you don’t trim them, the tree will fall because of the weight. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it! 🙂

  2. Am I ever glad to read todays post. My window boxes have been such a disappointment to me once the bulbs have been taken out and replanted.
    For the past couple of years I have planted plants that have been suggested for north facing windows and although they look wonderful for a few weeks, they all seem to die eventually and I replant again and sometimes again.

    It sounds as if I have been watering them to death.

    what would you suggest I mix with this wonderful soil that I had purposely bought because it was for hanging baskets and supposed to hold moisture longer. I am now thinking that it wasn’t supposed to be loaded into large deep window boxes


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