Navigating a slippery slope in the garden


I used to hate this! Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata or terniflora) used to make me crazy. It would form a virtual helmet over some already large shrubs, turning them into giant blobs and defying all efforts to pull it out. It came back every year and the fight would resume. I couldn't even enjoy its blossoms.

Then Emily, my late-great-moved-to-North-Carolina helper, suggested dividing it and planting it along the fence. Understand I have something like 150 feet of fence. Way too much of a blizzard effect if the whole thing were covered in white, so Emily planted plugs of it here and there.

Suddenly, I'm in the throes of major like for autumn clematis. It's fluffier, whiter, prettier than I ever remember. Its starry blossoms are quite beautiful and their scent, though faint, is pleasant.

It's yet another example of the slippery slope effect of gardening. It's like food (tomatoes!), like wine and art and music: Likes and dislikes change and evolve with time. Witness the mass "editing" I've been doing in the garden over the last couple of years. Things that once felt special now seem so ordinary, they bring little pleasure.

And less, I've discovered, is so much more. Even for sweet autumn clematis, which truly does look sweet on the fence.