Year of Grace, Day 123. The tenacity of plants

While clearing out the dried leaves and other winter debris in the garden yesterday, I noticed that certain plants that I thought wouldn’t have a chance over the winter have survived. I am in awe of some plants’ resilience to freezing temperatures.

One in particular, a purple variant of mitsuba — one of my favourite Japanese herbs and often called Japanese parsley, though it is not a parsley relative – is full of new shoots. It is heartening to see how robust this fragile-seeming herb is. I had planted it in a pot together with some chives, instead of in the ground, as I did not wish to lose it to the voles and moles who have free run of the garden. And even without any winter protection for the pot (fleece or burlap sheets wrapped around the pots), both mitsuba and chives are now sending forth new leaves. I shall position the mitsuba in the shade this year, so that the leaves and stems stay tender. Last year they were a bit tough and stringy. I am looking forward to the delicate scent of its leaves floating ever so gracefully in suimono (clear soups) or adorning the quivery silken surface of chawan mushi (steamed custard soups).

Purple mitsuba leafing out

Purple mitsuba leafing out

Another plant that has not suffered too much is an Argentinian plant – Verbena bonariensis – whose tall stalks are tipped with clusters of tiny lilac flowers. These have a delicate perfume that carries well on a light breeze. I was surprised by its scent while working in my garden in England, as I had not expected it to be perfumed. To hedge its chances here, I planted some in the front garden which has a southern exposure and in the west-facing back garden, close to the protection of the house walls. But even those in planters out in the open have done well.

The tiny sedums have also come through. I am acquainted with the robustness of the larger sedums, but this is the first time that I have planted these smaller ones, and with the good drainage in the tall herb pots, they have survived.



On the other hand, the clary sage did not fare well. I thought I had provided enough drainage for this Mediterranean native, but apparently not. As with all else in life, in the garden there are always gains and losses. And unless it is a tree that takes years to mature, I am not too bothered about annual or biennial plants that fail to thrive or survive the winter. It takes a while to become familiar with a garden’s micro-climate, and 2.5 years is nothing at all in the life of a garden.

Today I am thankful that there are more survivors in the garden than I had expected. The tulips are leafing out, and so are the narcissus. Primroses are blooming too. It’s another sunny day today – perfect for gardening!

On another note, I have this irrational and rather whimsical hope every time I pass by my jewelry box, that my turquoise earrings and necklace lost to those odious Barcelona bandits, will miraculously appear. I realise a miracle like this would be rather far-fetched. It just occurred to me that the last time we were in Spain, we had been robbed as well. It was the 28th of December, Día de los Innocentes, or Spanish April Fools, and someone had helped themselves to No. 2 son’s clothes. Ay, ladrones!!

One thought on “Year of Grace, Day 123. The tenacity of plants

  1. Very nice to hear there were many survivors in your garden. I tried looking-up how low the temperatures can go for Mitsuba and couldn’t find anything official. However I did find one entry saying it survived -5C temperatures. I have had dreams about lost jewelry. I was sad when I lost my diamond studded bracelet at Carrefour quite recently, but I got over it.


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