Garden Photo of the Day

The Loved and Lost List

Favorite plants that have come and gone

Today’s photos come from Jane Donelon.

As I gaze at my snow-covered garden, I wonder what will make it through this winter. The constantly changing conditions of nature alter my garden every year. I think fondly of the many plants that I have loved and lost since I’ve been gardening here in Maine for over 40 years. Here are a few of my favorites from my loved and lost list, all unforgettable treasures that I feel fortunate to have enjoyed, at least for a time.

One of my first clematis, Clematis alpina ‘Helsingborg’ (Zones 3–9), draped over an old honeysuckle above the wildflower path and creating a special delight each spring for many years.

white wood poppyThe loss of the stunning white wood poppy, Glaucidium palmate ‘Alba’ (Zones 5–7), was made a bit more bearable, as the lavender variety is still thriving.

Primula vialiiWhile candelabra primula naturalize happily in my bog, the unusual and beautiful Primula vialii (Zones 5–8) has never made it through a winter anywhere in my garden.

blue poppyI was fortunate to have had the thrill of seeing—and feeling—the fuzzy buds of my blue poppy, Meconopsis grandis (Zones 5–7), push through the earth for four or five years.

Lilium grayiFor a few years the rare and elegant red lily, Lilium grayi (Zones 5–8), graced my garden, until it suddenly disappeared.

Shortia galacifoliaThe delicate, fringed Shortia galacifolia (Zones 5–7) warmed my heart for several seasons, and then it too was gone.

yellow bleeding heart vineIn early fall the lovely yellow bleeding heart vine, Dicentra scandens, would surprise me by dangling down from trees above the woodland path. Although it is listed as a Zone 7 plant, somehow it managed to survive in a protected spot in my Zone 5 garden for a number of years.

While I feel sad at each and every loss, as an older gardener with an overcrowded garden, I am also happy to have an open spot for some wonderful new treasure in my garden!


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View Comments


  1. coastalgardener 03/04/2020

    I found you post so interesting because I actually have an envolpe of tags from plants I've lost over the years. Looking through it brings bittersweet memories because some of those plants were gifts. I've already seen some of my plants have suffered from frost heaves over the winter because we've had so very little snow cover as protection from the constantly changing temperatures. We're all subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but we true gardeners never throw in the trowel!!

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      We all have them, don't we? Mine could fill a shoebox! I , too, saw much heaving yesterday when I took an early spring stroll. Still too frozen to push anything in.

  2. coastalgardener 03/04/2020

    Oops, that should be envelope, not envolpe!

  3. sagebird52 03/04/2020

    Beautiful pictures of some exquisite garden beauties. Thanks

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      Thanks and thank goodness there are endless beauties to try!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/04/2020

    What a fascinating topic, Jane. All of your loved and lost plants were quite beautiful and well worth lamenting their departure. The subject stirs up memories of one's own personal loved and lost list. I had a magnificent 'Carol Mackie' Daphne and, I confess to feeling some smug pride that, year after year, it seemed to spite of its reputation for unexpectedly dying. I guess I got 5 or 6 years out of those delicious smelling spring flowers and then, boohoo, one year, almost overnight, it looked sick and pathetic. No amount of judicious or artistic pruning could make it presentable and I had to wave the white flag of surrender and say goodby to it.

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      I bought my first 'Carol Mackie' Daphne last spring. ..tried to plant it in a safe spot. We'll see what happens. We don't always know what the culprit is-there are so many factors. That might be one of the things that makes gardening so wonderful-all those challenges!

  5. User avater
    user-7007816 03/04/2020

    Yours is a story that I can relate to. I am often tempted to buy unusual plants, usually through the mail, and test them. We live in Michigan where winters are variable and sometimes the plants make it for a year or two.

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      I hope you keep trying, user! It's worth enjoying a year or 2 of an unusual and special plant, don't you think?! And who know how long it will last....

  6. User avater
    bdowen 03/04/2020

    Thought-provoking topic! I usually feel sad when I look through my photos and garden notebook and see so many "loved and lost" plants. I appreciate your viewpoint of enjoying the beautiful photos, treasuring the memories and looking forward to what might fill that empty spot. Thank you for sharing your garden with us.

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      Thank you BDOwen, I have mixed feelings ,too.

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/04/2020

    Oh, my, gosh, that blue poppy is out of this world!!

  8. janeeliz 03/04/2020

    Yes, blue poppies are extraordinary . I've tried a few others but with no success. Just reading about pinching off their buds gives me the creeps. I try to be happy just seeing them thrive anyplace.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 03/04/2020

    I like this concept of a "love and lost list". That elusive plant that grows but then mysteriously ends.
    That photo of your Clematis alpina draped over the old Honeysuckle is one of the most natural looking woodland gardens- just gorgeous!
    The flowers on the ground and the clematis all look like nature planned it- not added by a gardener- and that's a real talent!
    I think you should plant another clematis alpine there for sure!

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      Thanks, Sue. I have tried other clematis there with no luck; I think it is too shady now. I do love vines, tho, and have clematis and others growing where- ever they will throughout my garden.

  10. Maggieat11 03/04/2020

    Thanks so much for your great post. Wonderful photos! You certainly have had some beautiful plants...and still do. A way of a Gardener; always trying new possibilities. I had a gorgeous Carol Mackie for 7-8 years; then it split in the middle. A loss... but then again, another spot to try something new- and hopefully better.

    1. janeeliz 03/04/2020

      Glad you enjoyed it Maggie. I hope to enjoy Carol Mackie for at least a few years. Such a scent!

  11. [email protected] 03/04/2020

    Awww... seriously touching. And I love your attitude! And your gorgeous photos. I'm going to try to adopt a better outlook- More like Pollyanna! thanks

  12. Cenepk10 03/04/2020

    Condolences on your great losses. Beauties all...Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all... Magnificent taste in flowers/plants, my dear.

  13. lmshaw 03/05/2020

    Stunning photos. Thank you for sharing. As a relatively "green gardener in the PNW I have had more losses than can be imagined. But I keep trying.

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