So when my currant bush turned brown and crinkly at the end of last summer, I figured it was a goner, too. My visions of multi-colored leaves fluttering away in the autumn breeze turned out instead to more closely resemble scorched shreds of parchment dropping to the ground like moths at the base of a bug zapper.
I left the plant to winter over, and in the early spring, I went out to look for signs of life. The clump of skyward-pointing sticks looked pretty dismal. I consulted with my sister, who had originally given me the currant bush. It was thriving so well at her place that it was outgrowing its space. She suggested that I cut off the dead branches and leave the rest to see what it would do.
The only problem being that all of the branches looked dead. So I cut off the ones that looked really, really dead, and left the rest to see what would happen. To my surprise, and much later than my sister had predicted, the plant eventually began to put on new growth.
At that point, I figured the best thing for me to do was to leave it alone. Since my efforts to help plants grow usually ends up merely helping to hasten their demise, I thought the wisest course of action might be non-action. What’s the phrase? Primum non nocere… “first do no harm.”
Now with the drier season coming on the question becomes, “to water or not to water,” as Shakespeare might have put it. I’ve decided to use my yard as a testing ground for a book I’m going to write, Effective Horticulture through Neglect. From my vast experience, I’ve got several theories to work through. I just need to find a continuing supply of plants. I think my sister has finally cut me off.