One year, we moved a decades-old peony bush to a more sunny spot. Peonies thrive in sun, and pine for more light when they don’t get it.
So we moved the bush maybe 4 feet. And it just flipped out.
Leaves shriveled and fell. I pruned away as many as seemed prudent, to help it deal with the shock of a move.
The leaves continued to shrivel and die. Until one night I clipped back all but one single cluster of leaves on a single stem.
I could not take the broken heart I would have felt, had that last leaf not made it. I babied it like no other plant in my history. (I have never been a big plant nurturer, but I love gardens.)
Every morning, I would water that peony leaf. When I started, that leaf was always actually flat on the ground, as if it had already given up.
It felt like watering a stick. There was no promise in that leaf at all.
In an hour or so after I watered the stick, I would notice that it had gained enough strength to come an inch or so off the ground. I have never been so happy to see such subtle change!
Of course, I had to leave the garden during the daytime. I would get back home around dark, and again that poor leaf was flat and lifeless against the dirt. Once more, I would water the stick.
Nothing happened that year to indicate that my watering was worth the time. The leaf did not improve at all, though I kept at my routine.
The snow covered my stick along with the rest of the garden. I held no hope that I would see a peony plant come up the next spring.
Amazingly, it did come back, with a few other leaves to keep it company. It took about 3 years to really look healthy, and now perhaps 7 years later it is huge and bold.
The moral: Water the stick. Keep the faith; keep doing your part when it feels uncertain.
Photo: See the flamingo lost in the midst of dark green leaves? Those leaves are the very plant which was once a mere stick. It is even stronger and larger now.