Lost and Found in the Garden….


This past spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find some previously lost plants growing again in my front garden.  How did I lose them in the first place?  Well, when I first designed and planted our garden, over 10 years ago, I included quite a few different flowering perennials.  Like many flowering perennials, they were short-lived and I did not replace all of them.  I don’t really have a good reason for not replacing them, but at the time, I was busy managing other gardens and landscapes and did not have the energy to focus on my own….sad wasn’t it?

Well, here is how I found my plants……last winter and spring, we received much more rainfall then usual.  In late March, I was checking around the garden for weeds when I saw some tiny leaves starting to poke their way through.  I looked closely at them before ripping them out and discovered that they were the offspring from my original plants.

Lost Plants, Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)

Lost Plants, Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)

Paperflower was the first of my lost perennials to return.  The seeds from my original plants had laid dormant for 8 years until the copious rainfall caused them to germinate.  I love this little plant with its gray-green leaves but the coolest thing is that as the flowers die, they become papery in texture.  You can see the spent flowers above towards the right lower corner.  

This plant makes a great groundcover and has bloomed for me spring through fall.

Goodding's Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)

Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)

Although I have grown many different types of Verbena, this one is my favorite.  I love the delicate, tiny purple flowers and the way the plant spreads out on the ground.  Definitely not a fussy plant, it will flower like crazy throughout the spring and off and on during the rest of the year. 

lost plants

Like many flowering perennials, it is rather short-lived but does self-seed.  It looks fantastic when placed next to boulders.

lost plants

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

The last plant that has made it’s reappearance in my garden was my Desert Marigold.  This flowering perennial grows very well in the southwest and can be seen lining the roadways during the spring, especially when we have had sufficient rain.  It does very well in the residential landscape as well and is sometimes treated as an annual wildflower.

lost plants

The sunny, yellow flowers can be seen off and on, year round.  They are very easy to grow from seed, but can be purchased in 1-gallon containers.  However, it has been my experience that my Desert Marigolds last longer when I grow them from seed, rather then transplant them from containers.  

I am so happy to have all of these plants back in my garden 🙂

Don’t you just love the feeling you get when you find something that you thought you had lost?

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
18 replies
  1. Pam's English Garden
    Pam's English Garden says:

    Noelle, When I first started to garden in this part of the world I wasn't familiar with many plants. My first spring I "lost" some of my flowers because I thought they were weeds and pulled them out. Fortunately, some of them came back,so I know how you feel. You must be overjoyed to see your "lost" friends again. Love the golden marigold! Pam x

  2. rohrerbot
    rohrerbot says:

    I love when something you think is gone reappears:)It's one of the best surprises that happen in the garden. And when it does happen, I work around them as they have earned their place in the garden:)

  3. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    What lovely surprises they all are … I really love the Desert Marigold! It's just fantastic when you happen across something that you thought you'd lost …. wish that happened to me more often though!

  4. Edith Hope
    Edith Hope says:

    Dear Noelle, I do know exactly what you mean. There is such a thrill when something upon which one had given up hope for in the garden reappears as if by magic. Particularly exciting with short lived plants which have clearly set seed. You seem to be doing particularly well in this respect!

  5. Annelie
    Annelie says:

    You must just be so happy to have these flowers come back to be rediscovered. I know I would have.
    The Goodding's Verbena does look great next to the boulders, and would there fore look great in my garden. But I don't recall ever seeing this verbena at the garden centers.
    Ooooh, the Desert Marigold…. good thing you don't live close to me. You'd wake up one day to a lot of divided marigolds. 🙂


  6. jeansgarden
    jeansgarden says:

    Noelle, I'm always thrilled when plants I thought were gone reappear, especially if they are older varieties that are no longer readily available. A few years ago, my daylily 'Silver Ice' failed to come up in spring and seemed to be lost. I intended to replace it with something else, but I got busy and never got around to it. The following year, Silver Ice (or something else in its place) put up foliage and didn't bloom. This year, it bloomed abundantly. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. I'm so happy that your lost flowers have returned. -Jean

  7. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    It is amazing how long seeds can stay dormant. We had a lot of 'found' plants this year with our wet spring, but it does make me wonder how many of them will return in a more dry spring in the coming years. Perhaps we'll lose a few too, for a while, and find them again when the rains encourage them to grow.

  8. Rainforest Gardener
    Rainforest Gardener says:

    Its so exciting when that happens! Isn't it amazing to think that the flower's seeds were dormant for so long… thats one of the coolest things about plants adapted to dry climates. Too cool!

  9. James Missier
    James Missier says:

    my wishbone flower springs out every Sept – Dec. where it rains almost everyday.
    And then they just disappear suddenly without any sign.
    Love your "missing" collection – they all look healthy and prime.

  10. camissonia
    camissonia says:

    Noelle, I am so glad to hear that Paperflower can remain dormant for such a long time before germinating. For 3 consecutive years I've been sowing seeds of Psilostrophe cooperi in a sandy flower bed, but to no avail. I pretty much gave up on them, but now there's a glimmer of hope that they may actually come up one of these days. Will keep my fingers crossed!

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