Over to the dark side

Saturday morning we went to the Washington Native Plant Society Sale at the Bellevue Botannical Garden.  I had met some members the previous week at another event: while discussing my difficulty in finding a particular plant and explaining my restrictive gardening scenario, I was warmed by one of the members’ assertion that ‘that’s ridiculous!  as long as you aren’t planting something invasive or harmful, you should be able to plant what you want!’  I was pleased to meet a kindred soul, and I’ll be joining their club.  I can’t wait for the Spring Formal. 

He told me that the choice plants sell quickly and be sure to arrive early.  Early to me means 9:55 am for a 10 am opening, and so we got there to find a line of a couple hundred people snaking around the walkways of the Garden.  This was an interesting subculture, a generally rumpled and studious looking group;  a debate arose around me as to whether or not sweet woodruff is a noxious weed and the ethics of planting it in an enclosed yard, and I overheard a number of folks correcting one another on their Latin pronunciation.  On a different Saturday they might have been LARPing in a park or home feeding eleventy-four cats, but today we dutifully waited together for the chance to buy things that we could have just as easily (but illegally) been digging up in a national park.

I care for neither the safety of your shins nor the cleanliness of your Birkenstocks!

By 10:01 we had surged into the sale area, and while not exactly holiday clearance at Mervyn’s, focused intent was the order of the morning and red wagons and cardboard trays were wielded like battering rams and protective armor.  I observed a passive-agressive disagreement over ‘ownership’ of two wagons filled with identical plant material (‘well, if you think it’s yours, go ahead and take it then’), a discussion made ridiculous not just by its content but by the fact that everyone knows you must lick the handle of your Radio Flyer in order to claim it outright.

Mine! (spits on five nursery pots)

Northwest Native plants tend to come in your choice of green or green, and those that bloom generally do so in the muted tones of the shady forest.  I selected five Orange Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera ciliosa) to scramble up the Bigleaf Maples and bring some warm color–and hummingbirds– to my clearing.  As I made my purchase I mentally noted that the Latin vowel sounds are actually ah eh oh ee oo, without dipthong, of course, and wondered where the deep and misunderstood outsider of my youth had gone.  I have met the Plant Nerd, and he is me.

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2 Responses to Over to the dark side

  1. rainyleaf says:

    I like this article…so true….the distinctive grubbiness of gardeners…and the honesty “there’s dirt on your face!”….and I am happy to have become….a plant nerd too (just don’t tell too many people!)

  2. calvincaley says:

    You don’t have to participate in the tug ‘o’ war over a particularly choice plant, only be there to witness it, to realize you belong to a subculture…generally one that welcomes newcomers and outsiders, however, and one that realizes that ‘a rising tide raises all ships.’ We might rassle over the last honeysuckle vine, but it seems that we also help one another nurture it, propagate from it, and admire the results.

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