My garden is well documented proof that I cannot resist a clearance rack plant. They sit forlorn and weedy, missing tags and leaves, remnants from a season that has passed them by. I slowly peruse the tables, picking up the pots and checking to see if the plant tag matches the plant, rearranging tags as I go. The agastache sports a tag claiming it's a mildew resistant aster while the crinkly dead mums lean against theirs, it's label correct but the plant no longer able to fill the promise of fabulous fall blooms. It's rare that I leave without a new plant to squeeze into an already full garden. When I saw the echinacea, it sat alone, no tag to shout its features. I recognized the foliage and immediately thought of the sunny places it could fill. I plopped it into my wagon, its pink flowers headed for a spot behind the dwarf solidago and 'Rotkugel' oregano.
As the winter grew snowier, I forgot about the coneflowers, the garden buried under an ever deepening sea of white. By spring the long green leaves of the coneflower shot upward, and I laughed to see it growing so vigorously. I had forgotten I had purchased it, just remembering the excitement of $3 pink blooms and hungry butterflies all summer. I saw it again through the window when I came home from work today and stopped in surprise. Pale peachy orange petals stood stiffly around the flat brown middle like a sunrise above a bristly hill. It wasn't what I expected but like life was so much better - a beautiful surprise!!