It’s a mystery. Two summers ago we planted a row of lavender along the front deck. Five small plants with big potential. Within a few months they would be peeking over the edge of the deck, covered in fragrant blooms.
The plants doubled in size, supporting each other as they grew out and up. They bumped up against the lawn; spilled on to the stairs. Except for one. One of the five plants was still below deck. Like the runt of the litter, I reasoned, the smaller plant needed more time.
My well-honed sense of symmetry was eschew; I wanted each of these plants to grow into one cohesive row. The plant seemed healthy. It branched, it flowered, and it grew. Every few days I would lean over the edge of the deck, lifting its branches skyward. Perhaps this lovely lavender had simply lost its way. “Stand tall,” I encouraged; that space is yours to fill.
I sought the advice of a couple of garden experts. One suggested it was something in the soil. I asked if it was possibly a dwarf variety but they didn’t think so. Nearly two years later the plant is still small.
I’m pragmatic when it’s time to pluck annuals from the earth and I can thin seeds and pull weeds with impunity. Giving up on an established perennial, however, feels like the gardener’s equivalent of throwing in the towel. If only the plant would send me a sign by turning brown, falling over or displaying a visible blight. Then I would be ready to let it go.