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Sprouts for Adoption

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on , 2001

Plants are sprouting out of the earth all over my garden. I haven’t planted any seeds this spring; these sprouts are all from seeds that got scattered last fall, or this year’s expanded growth coming up from the roots of my perennials. They all happily grow wherever they can, and I have to decide if I want them there.

Sometimes it’s fun seeing how plants do where they come up by themselves. One year my iris garden was invaded by Johnny-jump-ups. After the iris had bloomed the violas grew leggy and tall, but the iris gave them support. As a result the violas hid the brown virus spots on the iris leaves, with a huge cloud of little blue, violet, white and yellow faces — an enchanting cottage garden.

Just as often, however, new shoots are in the way — like when they come up in the middle of a path. Or like my prized variegated periwinkle, which tries to invade the lawn every year, and would kill the grass. So I carefully dig out the new pieces, and find somewhere else for them.

I’m going to use them to expand the periwinkle bed in a different direction, instead of into the lawn. For many years I kept the periwinkle out of this area, because it was the sunniest spot in the front yard, and I wanted it for sun-lovers. But now I think having the periwinkle spread across the whole breadth of the area will unify the design better, and look more interesting.

Finding a place for all of spring’s new sprouts, however, is a challenge; my garden doesn’t have room for most of them. A friend once called me generous when I gave her several of these orphans. I didn’t feel like I was being generous, I just felt I was being thrifty with what the earth, in its generosity, has produced. I can’t stand to simply throw out the fruits of this generosity, or even recycle them on the compost pile: these plants are such eager, healthy, living stuff, glowing with beauty and capable of giving so much joy.

So every spring I to find other homes for them. Perhaps this year I can get organized to put a cart out at the street in front of the house, with a little box for money, and put my oversupply there so people can take what they want and pay for them.

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© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark