Once, not that long ago, lived a gardener who thought she knew a lot. She had read a bunch of articles in magazines about exciting new plant introductions, and was eager to explore a world of chartreuse foliage, bold color combinations, and winter interest.
Armed with this knowledge, she began to dismantle her yard, which was in fact pretty boring. The stiff, waxy Euonymous hedges that blocked light into the house went Sayonara, as did the stolid yew hedge in front. Ditto the overgrown Japanese holly bushes that took up large circles of precious real estate.
Feeling cleansed, the gardener went even further and began pulling out almost everything else in the garden. Banished were the boring Rosebay Rhododendrons. A Spirea was easily pried out of the spent soil with most of its roots still attached. Considering this shrub as it lay on the ground, the gardener thought to offer it to a neighbor, who readily took it into her own garden.
A few years later, the gardener had turned that boring, hedgy yard into quite a nice place.
Then she moved. Her new garden had only two landscape features; a crumbling swimming pool in which was growing a number of swamp trees, and a terrarium made of a Chevy Nova filled with bamboo growing up through the underbody and pressed against the inside of the windshield.
Once again she cleared almost everything out of a garden. This time it was the palette of neglect she was dismantling. Poison ivy, porcelain berry, box elder, poke.
The garden was very bare when she was finished.
The neighbor came over, and offered her the old Spirea vanhouttei back. She wanted to put up a chicken run and it was in the way.
The gardener gratefully took repossession of the Spirea. It didn’t look boring to her anymore. She now truly appreciated it; its graceful form, its undemanding character, the beautifully sweet-smelling flower clusters that brought back memories going back to childhood.
Besides being the only mature shrub in her garden, this plant reminded her that sometimes knowledge is not the same thing as understanding.