My cat Mira amongst the Hops vines ( Humulus lupulus)
We have all heard the warning, "Be careful what you wish for!" Sometimes we can only understand this warning after it is too late, when we receive more than we can handle. I would like to talk about very specific wishes in a garden setting that can also turn out to be a bit more than we had in mind, but still be awe-inspiring and welcome.
The picture above is of my late garden buddy, Mira, walking along the top of a fence brimming with Hops vines. I've written two children's books about a magical herb garden where wondrous things happen easily. However, in an ordinary herb garden, magic also happens, and in my case, more than once.
I didn't plant the Hops living in my garden. One day, I stood in the middle of my main herb garden and asked for some Hops, out loud. Then I went about my life and forgot about it. The next year in the Fall, my garden apprentice and I were doing a last clean-up, pulling out some of the 'unwanteds', dead-heading everything except the Echinacea flowers, whose seeds the birds enjoy, and just generally making things ready for winter. My helper called to me and asked about one plant which was about a foot high, in the middle of the garden. I glanced over quickly and said, "Yeah, just pull it." Then the image instantly registered in my brain. I had recognized a Hops plant! "No, stop!", I cried as I rushed over to welcome the newcomer, growing exactly in the spot where I'd made my wish.
I tenderly dug her up and re-located her against the garden fence, among the Peppermint plants. I knew she would need some support, and goodness, that certainly is the case. The two of us have a disagreement every year over just how much of the garden she can occupy! Can you hear that warning now in a new light?
The next time I wished for a plant, I was on the other side of the house where there are some smaller herb gardens. It was Spring and I was looking at a group of Solomon's Seal plants, about 15 feet away. I again said out loud to myself, or so I thought, "How interesting it would be to also have some False Solomon's Seal. That way my herbal students can easily observe the difference between the two". The next year, guess who I found growing right where I had been standing when I verbalized that wish. Yup, False Solomon's Seal, in the beginnings of a nice-sized patch.
Asking for and receiving a little wild geranium named Herb Robert in the side garden, as well as some pretty Dame's Rocket at the back of our property, was child's play. And in the summer of 2019, I asked over and over again if I could please have lots more St. Johnswort in 2020. (I need quite a bit for my students.) Below is some of the happy result. Last summer, St Johnswort was growing profusely in almost every garden. It is most of the yellow-flowered plants in this picture, taken during a class last year. Wonderful!
I would like to challenge you to a little wishing in your own piece of garden heaven. You can also wish to see a specific plant in the wild. Ask nicely and always out loud. It's best to be really focused and perhaps, alone. Then, let it go. Don't keep wondering about it, just forget it. One day you may be guided to look in a direction you usually don't, or to take a different path and there it will be. Keep in mind, where the garden plants are concerned, your wished-for plant should probably be one that is already in your growing zone and perhaps your neighborhood. I was unaware of any Hops or False Solomon's Seal in my vicinity, but they must have been brought by some little critter, or born on the wind. Or...?
Have fun and please share your stories. I look forward to hearing them. And always remember, be careful what you wish for!