I've been tending the same garden plot so long (17 years) that I know what to expect from it. Wild daisies will spring up in places I don't want them. Coralbells will die, no matter where I put them. And I'll have to pull a lot of thistles to keep it looking its best.


It's sort of like a long marriage. Yes, the object of your devotion has its irksome quirks and habits, but also brings comfort and beauty. There are few surprises, but every so often, my garden, like my husband, pops up with something new and unexpected.

This season's surprise in the garden was a ligularia's decision to bloom, after years of displaying only foliage. I have two kinds of ligularia, one with green leaves with serrated edges, and another with darker, glossier leaves with a smoother edge. I didn't expect flowers out of either variety when I first planted them about eight years ago. I didn't even know ligularia had flowers. I just liked their big foliage.


Then, a couple summers ago, the green-leafed plants started surprising me with blooms, in tall, spiky yellow clusters. I loved the height and color they added to the bed. They've bloomed reliably ever since.


The dark-leafed ligularia remained flower-free, which was fine. Then last week, an unfamiliar lump  appeared atop one stem. When I looked closer, I could see that it was the beginning of some kind of flower. Yesterday the new flowers revealed themselves. They're also yellow, but a richer, more golden hue, and the form is a little stubbier and more compact, with shorter petals.

I love that my garden can still surprise and delight me after all these years. How about you -- what surprises has your garden had up its sleeve?