One of the great things about gardening is that you can always try things, and try them your own way. Over time I have learnt that sometimes other people are right, but sometimes they are not. People with gardening experience both greater and lesser than my own have said to me on numerous occasions, “That won’t work” or “You have to do this”. Being a stubborn-hearted individual, I usually take those comments as a challenge. Sometimes, I can make things work. Then I have to try not to gloat.

One of my favourite examples of this is when I worked on a cucumber farm and I found a little fern growing in a moist patch along the edge of a tunnel house, which I wanted to take home. I carefully prised it out and took it to the staff room, where I wrapped its roots in wet newspaper and sat it in a mug until I was ready to take it home. Someone told me it wouldn’t work. He had tried it before. He insisted it wouldn’t survive the upheaval from its specialised environment. I took it home, potted it up and left it to be in a sheltered spot, watering it as needed. It survived and I still have it!

Blechnum penna-marina (Alpine Hard Fern)
Blechnum penna-marina (Alpine Hard Fern).

It turned out to be a Blechnum penna-marina, one of our beautiful native ground cover ferns. I have also potted up a couple of divisions from it, one of them pictured above. Another tunnel house fern got re-homed as well, that is, until it died in one of Christchurch’s snow events. Oops! Moving on…

Things do swing in the other direction too. Even the most stubborn intentions cannot make some things work. Like when you try to grow a plant in a site that doesn’t suit it. Who hasn’t done that? I’ll bet most of us gardeners are doing that right now! Sometimes it can work, if the label or advice given misinformed you or if you have the right micro-climate in that patch of your garden. There are some pieces of gardening advice that don’t have a lot of leeway, like how deep to plant a plant, which you soon learn through experience, but others have plenty of scope for ‘trying’. The point is, us gardeners never stop trying things because you never know until you try, and if you succeed you could be very, very happy, even gloating.

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