Au Revoir, Pincushions 

Pincushion flowers found their way into the yard by way of a chance encounter at the Grower’s Outlet in Snellville, Georgia. Wandering through the maze of tables covered with plants, I spotted the lavender blooms and immediately knew they had to come home with me. The first group of five or six plants turned out to be a variety that only grows to six inches. I waited all summer for them to grow taller, but they never did. I should have read the label—they were a dwarf variety. Although disappointed at their small size, that perfect lavender color was enough for me to keep them. Unfortunately, winter had other ideas.

The following spring, I was shocked to see pincushions at Home Depot. Only these plants were much larger—the size I thought I’d bought initially. I selected five and planted them near the front border behind the raspberry verbena. They grew slowly during summer and then perked up in the fall. Surprisingly, they bloomed all winter! The next spring, they started blooming soon after the creeping phlox, and in a few weeks, there was a wall of lavender 18 inches high and wide and six feet long. It was glorious!

Last year, I replaced two that died over winter. By the end of summer, three more had died. Seeing them disappear, I resolved to dig up the area, aerate and fertilize, and then put four new plants in to save the group. As with other “best-laid plans,” that plan fell through when I was unable to work the garden until late July. By that time, only one of seven pincushions remained. This hurts.

In their absence, that part of the garden looks empty, less exuberant. Planning costs nothing, so I will make a new plan to reinvigorate that part of the garden with new pincushion flowers. Perhaps this time, things will work out. So, I’ll say “au revoir” instead of goodbye and hope for the best.

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