JUST recently, a plant died in my garden. That’s not so unusual – my plants die just like anybody else’s. In fact, it always puzzles me that out of a punnet of six healthy seedlings, there’s often one, planted on the same day into the same soil, that will curl up its roots and wither away while the others thrive. Despite my best care, it’s bound for plant heaven!
But the plant I’m talking about was a huge azalea of nearly eighteen years. Every spring it was a mass of pink blooms, white edged with purple throats. Every year, I trimmed, fed and topsoiled it. But last summer, its leaves turned brown. I gave it extra water. I sprayed for pests and fungus and used a soluble fertiliser. It withered. I pruned it, but the new growth was weak, the new leaves hung like little green rags. I Googled: Sick Azalea, only to find I was doing everything right. Alas, for this azalea it was time for the compost. So I dug it out.
Suddenly I had a huge hole where a huge plant had been and a huge opportunity to re-think the garden design. I placed a very large ceramic pot in the spot and planted a troublesome bromeliad. Troublesome, because it was too big for its old pot and I’d run out of garden space. And it looks great! Change is good.