My Japanese Barberry is alive!

Last summer, I made a feeble attempt to garden. Having moved from apartment to house in spring, life was still chaotic, especially with the addition of dog and cat. One day, I stopped at the UBC Botanical Garden to buy new plants.

I was totally ignorant and picked plants that I later regretted buying. Hostas would get devoured by snails; Japanese Barberry is an invasive species. During the summer, walking around the buoyant gardens in Kitsilano, I began to notice… plants. (In fact, my own green-thumbed dad once recommended just that: Walk around and see what looks good, what grows well, in your neighborhood. In other words, do your research!)

At the garden shop, the Japanese Barberry looked pretty, with red foliage that would add color to the backyard. I dillydallied about replanting it in the ground, so it stayed in a small pot. Once, I forgot to water it during a hot spell and its leaves hung dry and shriveled. It recovered (somewhat) with a good dousing.

During my winter trip to Hawaii, no one at home bothered with it. Due to cold and drought, it was leafless and lifeless by the time I returned. All winter, it sat, a skeleton of thorny twigs. Why we kept it, I don’t know.

About a week ago, I took a closer look, preparing finally to relegate its remains to composting. Time for spring cleaning. Ye gads, it was covered with tiny green leaves!

Today I pruned it, after a Google search on this alien topic. Do you know the difference between “heading” and “thinning” cuts? Now I do, rudimentarily.

Here’s what else I learned:

  • Never assume.
  • Looks are deceiving.
  • Plants are more resilient than animals.
  • Adapt to the seasons.
  • Don’t expect others to water your plants while you’re away.
  • Sometimes one gets second chances.

What else?

Image: Japanese Barberry, August 2010

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