1. It is possible to have too much mint.
2. My garden wasn’t always a severely repressed arrangement of a few shrubs amidst a sea of mulch-topped landscaping fabric. As soon as the soil was exposed to air, it sprouted a thick crop of weeds plus the occasional portulaca, catchfly, or purple wave petunia. Also, the tradescantia that’s popped everywhere spreads by root not seed, so someone planted it; and it’s not a common perennial. I think there was a real gardener, and a garden that went badly to seed at the end, and that it all got mowed flat and mulched-over when the house went on the market. I can’t reconstruct it. Perhaps I’ll run into someone who knew it back when.
3. Don’t buy bulbs that are priced significantly below the average market price. The difference in survival rate and performance will be all too apparent.
4. It’s possible to screw up with basil. Who knew?*
5. Bachelor’s button, cosmos (bipinnatus and sulphureus), scarlet runner beans, nasturtiums (especially Empress of India), yay rah go. Plonk down some seeds in the spring, discourage the weeds as needed, and by the middle of summer they’ll be flowering their heads off.
6. My neighbor the very organic gardener back on Staten Island was wrong about “lots more ladybugs” being an automatic corollary to infestations of aphids. Those progeny-crazed little monsters have romped through my nasturtiums, but the incidence of ladybugs in my garden is no greater than it was before the aphids appeared. However, I notice that the hot pepper plants next to the nasturtiums haven’t been touched, so I’m going to try that trick next.
7. At least once in every gardener’s year comes the moment when you discover where the Really Big Slugs are hiding this time around. This will never, ever be happy news.
8. When clumps of tradescantia decide it’s too hot to do anything but flop over and pant, no support system will keep them satisfactorily upright. If you decide on wholesale slaughter, a large serrated kitchen knife used about an inch above the ground can be surprisingly effective.
9. Don’t bother spreading the oriental and asiatic lilies around. They’re inconvenient to have mixed in with other plants, and the spacing blunts their impact. Just group them in a very prominent place and watch them go off like slow-motion fireworks.
10. I surely do miss my dwarf gold-leafed spiraeas.
11. I’m starting to see that gladiolus is good for something other than inexpensive funeral arrangements.
12. If you’re a diligent gardener and you keep an eye on what’s coming up, sometimes fortune will send you a seedling Albizia julibrissin to replace the tree you had to leave behind in Staten Island.
13. Julia’s Ajuga reptans beats out mint. If it spreads any further, I’ll get to find out whether it beats out Houttuynia cordata.
14. While orange daylilies aren’t technically indestructible, the ones currently blooming their heads off in my garden were dug up out of Elise Mathesen’s garden and stored dry in a milk carton on her back porch, brought home from Minicon to Staten Island packed in Easter grass, callously tossed into a patch of dry semi-shade under a long-established maple tree (they bloomed a couple of months later), hastily rescued from the wreck of that garden, hastily rescued from the Union Street garden, stuck into the least promising corner of the front patch on Carroll Street, hastily rescued once again, and thoughtlessly relocated to their current spot because it was the only place in the garden where the soil wasn’t covered with fabric and mulch. Not only are they acting like this is exactly the location they’ve always hoped for; I couldn’t have picked a better spot to show them off, right in front of the dark-green weeping cherry.
15. There must be a corollary of Murphy’s Law that states that the tomatoes won’t get ripe until after the stakes collapse under their weight.
16. On a day when almost everything is blooming, and there’s enough overcast to get the fireflies lighting up early but there’s still enough daylight to see all the shapes and colors, a garden couldn’t possibly look any more beautiful.