I sometimes think that gardening is a competitive sport. Maybe it's just me. I'm a competitive type person, easily made jealous (like the busy god). Long story short, today a sweet spirit breezed into my garden and made me look at it a whole new way.
The spirit is one of The Spare's professors from college. For years I have been trying to find someone who would help me make a little mini-meadow in my yard with native American perennials. This professor was the first ever to offer her help, and she arrived today with a tray of seedlings and a great, big, beautiful smile.
She brought me asters, and goldenrod, and black-eyed susans, and sawgrass from the shore. She also brought this little charmer. Oh my goodness! I've seen big stands of prickly pear in the cemetery at Lawnside, but I'd never have guessed that they were native to New Jersey. And yes, master gardener, I do know what I just planted -- a spiny cactus that will get stingers on it and spread. Never mind. It belongs here. A cactus in New Jersey!
This story gets better, because it's not all about the plants she gave to me.
Turns out this fabulous woman has been looking all over the place for North America's only native lily plant. You won't believe this, reader, but I swear by all the bored gods that I have that lily growing in my yard. I took some seeds from my parents' garden back in Appalachia, a long time ago, and those lilies have been coming up every year in my yard, literally since 1988. So I was able to promise lily seeds. The professor also does not have the same kind of milkweed I have in my yard. I've got (better than ever this year) a big stand of common milkweed. So she'll get some of that, too.
We dug up a tulip poplar for her, and an autumn-leaf fern, and I even offered the most precious plant in my yard, the bloodroot.
Spare just got home from the beach. When I told her I dug up a bloodroot for her professor, Spare said, "Gosh. You must have liked her. No one ever dares mess with your bloodroot!
Basically, the kindly professor left with as many plants, and promises of plants, as she arrived with. To me, this is an awesome thing. The tangled mess outside my back door is full of gems!
Now this sermon takes a deeper step yet.
I'm a fan of the blogger Hecate Demeter, who writes frequently about loving the land you're in. It's very difficult for me to bond with New Jersey, and it always has been. But today, as I reviewed the plant life in my back yard and noted where it came from, I realized something. My garden is chock-a-block with plants from Appalachia. It's a green oasis from home! I brought the milkweed seeds from there, and the lily seeds. The bloodroot grows there, although my particular specimens didn't come from those parts.
I planted Polish Mountain in my yard, and it's growing. I made a shrine of rocks from Polish Mountain, and it's beautiful.
It only took one kindly professor asking me where my milkweed came from to figure it out. I moved a mountain. My plants and I, we have sturdy Appalachian roots. We'll see this through together.