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May 29, 2012 > Small plant adventures

Small plant adventures

By Pat Kite

I am never quite certain what will pop up in my garden. For example, I like going to garage sales. Next to one old home was a vacant lot with a dried up parking strip. But in that strip were poppy pods, and a few tall bright orange poppies. My garage sale friend dashed into the sale, but I stopped and started scrounging pods. Two pockets bulging-full. Happy.

Early spring I sprinkled the seeds hither and yon. I have always had problems growing poppies, but there is wishful thinking. Gardeners live on hope. This week I saw, in the one dry hot sunny corner of my yard, some poppy seedlings. This was so exciting! Some people climb the Matterhorn; I was growing poppies, although what kind I don't know. A souvenir of a small plant adventure.

Another time I joined our senior group for an outing. Next to the historic building was a hillside of unkempt weeds. But among the flotsam and jetsam I recognized masses of pink Monarda, [also called bee Balm and Horsemint]. For years I avoided Monarda because it tends to spread, and I don't have that much garden room. But who can resist free seeds?

So I clambered up the hillside and filled my purse with seeds. Inside the historic home, saner persons were savoring a homemade cookie and bracing green tea. I enjoyed dirt-covered shoes and weed-attached slacks. But I waited until spring, then sowed front and back yard. Has one single Monarda shown up? There is always hope for even one souvenir sprig.

In France, there were bright scarlet old-fashioned Hollyhocks, up a rather steep hillside adjacent to an old church. I escaped from my tour group, and sort of hiked - slipped up the hillside. I just love Hollyhocks. Cautiously I pilfered a few pods, then sat down and slipped down the hillside. I had a nice weed-covered derriere and three pods. I am still waiting, but one never knows what will come up in a garden.

"Do you want these?" a friend asks, toting over five containers of Cymbidium orchids. They have yet to bloom, but I've moved them several times, sprinkled with fertilizer and think how pretty they will be if they ever do bloom. At more than one estate sale, last few closing hours, I've asked the cost of dusty pots with whatever is trying to grow.

The vendor often charges me a dime, or just hands me a cracked pot or two of cactus, a half-demised container of geraniums, "We're just going to throw them out." Who could allow that? Perhaps somebody loved them. The cactus bloom, they are survivors. Like the geraniums. And every time I look at my little plant adventures, I think they are like my life. A little bit this, a little bit that, in a garden.

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