May 092012

The Clethra last summer in its glory at the nursery.

Know any funny stories about gardening? No? I didn’t either until this weekend. Gardening seems a sort of meditative, serious type of practice but I have found there is a lot of humor in it too.

Take for example, my recent experience with the Ruby Spice Clethra, (which just happens to be a native plant to the eastern U.S.) and is supposed to be a great plant for attracting butterflies.

Last year, I bought one on discount in the middle of summer to fill a spot near my front door. It had a few blooms as I recall and then didn’t do much. Early this spring, I looked at it and it was just a bunch of brown sticks.

“Oh great! I killed it.”



I dragged it off into the woods near our home to compost. I ended up ordering some more Ruby Spice Clethra online this year to put in my garden.

Imagine my surprise when I opened a package from one of the plant growers and found this:

The "stick" Clethra

It looked like a stick in a pot. Now, I have learned not to be surprised at what plants look like when you order by mail. Just the other day, I received this to plant (and yes, it did grow!):

Forget-Me-Not roots

So, after a while of sitting near the window in my kitchen waiting to go outside, suddenly leaves appeared on the “sticks”!

Sprouting sticks!

This development for some reason triggered memories of my Clethra hauled to the woods. Just for fun, I thought I would go check to see if it was still there.

Sure enough, there it was (with the plastic plant tag still on it).

Clethra abandoned in the woods

It was still potbound and stood up on its own. Would you believe it was sprouting leaves?

Rescued Clethra

So, of course, I had to put this survivor back in the garden!

Clethra survivor in its new home.

Around here, we like our plants practically iron clad!

During this whole incident, I could only remember the famous Monty Python “Bring Out Your Dead” sketch with the classic line: “I’m not dead yet!”

I know of at least one other plant with a Monty Python problem.

In the parking area of our local shopping center earlier this spring, there were all of these odd and pathetic-looking stumps.  Someone really pruned them back hard to just twigs sticking out of the ground.

“What happened to those trees?

Those have been pruned so hard

they are surely dead.”



I predicted.

Yet, in another Lazarus moment, a few weeks ago they were sprouting leaves!

"I'm not dead!" The resilient shopping center tree.

While I am still an authority on killing plants, I apparently have lost my privileges as a plant coroner.

Know a resilient plant? Have a humorous gardening tale? Please share in the comments.

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One Comment to “Plea of the Ruby Spice Clethra . . . “I’m Not Dead Yet!””

  1. avatar diadia says:

    …a miracle of mystery…

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