A friend asked me to include some gardening tips for those with black thumbs and I have tried to offer planting and growing information in each post. But I agree with Henry Mitchell's words in the Essential Earthman:
"Now the gardener is the one who has seen everything ruined so many times that (even as his pain increases with each loss) he comprehends--truly knows--that where there was a garden once, it can be again,...There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. ..Defiance...is what makes gardeners." p. 3
Weather, soil, hard work, all are part of gardening. But in the end a garden is a precarious undertaking. Plants themselves have minds of their own. A friend gave me three divisions of sedum Autumn Joy, an easy and reliable plant. I planted the three divisions in a triangle in nice garden soil. Two of the divisions thrived , the third just sat there. I left the plants for three years with the two lusty sisters growing into huge plants while the runt barely held onto life. Same soil, same plant, who can explain it? I finally moved the runt to a new spot and there is flurished.
So I suppose the best advice to gardeners is to persevere, just keep planting and something will like you and grow. The coneflowers in these photographs are extremely easy , they seem to do well no matter how they are treated. There are also many pretty new hybrids in opulent colors and more restrained sizes.