Being a ginger myself, it is odd that I have failed with the plant ginger multiple times. The ginger plant is tropical, I am temperate.

Ginger likes lots of strong sun and warm, even hot temperatures. I can provide this in summer. In winter I have a lot more plants than windows. I move plants around every few weeks, giving each its moment in the sun, but even so, the winter sun is both brief and weak. And our thermostat doesn’t even know what warm means. They die. So for me, gingers are annuals, like geraniums but a lot more interesting.

So despite my better judgment, which vanishes in the presence of nursery benches anyway, when I ran across a stunning ginger at Lowes, even though a bit pricey, I was weak. Who could resist those gorgeous red and pink bracts? So I now have another ginger, slightly different from the ones I have slaughtered. The tag said Curcuma alismatifolia. My earlier victims had all been Zingiber something, so I looked this one up.

First I learned that this is the plant turmeric comes from. It is the dried and ground tubers making a bright orange powder, a main ingredient in curry, and I just love curry.

But even better, this one is commonly called hidden ginger. Unlike the other gingers, this one hides in the shade and, best of all, it goes dormant in the winter. It is hard even for me to kill a dormant plant, so I am optimistic about having my first ginger for two seasons in a row. 

The leaves yellow and die in fall. I can leave the tubers in the pot with dry soil in cool temperatures or, for plants growing in the garden, dig them and store them.

That same day I ran across another plant I had killed more than once, a lavender. Lavender is not as hardy as it is sometimes claimed to be, but I had few regrets when it didn’t come back in spring, even though it has the gray foliage and blue flowers I favor at the moment. I kept trying it because I was supposed to like it; it’s trendy. I hate trendy.

I bought this one for two reasons. First, it was a standard. I like standards, normally bushy plants trained to have a “trunk” with the bushy part at the top, more like a small tree. There are a lot of hibiscus standards in nurseries this season (some now half price). And second, the flowers had all faded. It was no longer salable and it was on the clearance table. I suspect that was the main reason.

This was a Spanish lavender and I don’t speak Spanish, so it couldn’t really tell me what it wanted, but somehow it let me know that it disdained the terra cotta that I am so fond of. It was an elegant plant that wanted an elegant pot. I have a couple (clearance again; I’ll buy anything at 75 percent off), one 12-inch with lurid flowers and patterns in low relief that was perfect for this otherwise dour plant. I suspect … hope? … it will be happy on the unheated sun porch this winter.

Speaking of clearance items, I have mixed feelings about nurseries in early July. Most local nurseries no longer get new shipments, so my bi-weekly excursions are no longer presenting something new and exciting. On the other hand they are trying to empty their benches, and packs of mundane annuals are two for one or better.

I still have spaces in my garden that are empty. Well, except for the weeds which are thriving this year. Petunias and nicotiana and even marigolds I would normally turn my nose up at are suddenly appealing.