I am back from a week’s vacation with my family. While the weather was relatively pleasant in the San Juan Islands just north of here, apparently the seasonless gloom of the Sammamish plateau continued in my absence. I found that the volunteer bracken fern punctuating my property by the hundreds have grown from a lush bonus plant in the landscape to prehistoric-appearing 5 – 6 foot tall exclamation points: you look out the window and see FERNS! Decidedly Jurassic, but not very parklike. My mosses seem to be quite happy; a few gentle tugs reveal that they have attached themselves to the ground, they have taken on the burnished green-gold of summer dormancy, and they still puff up like wooly fugu when sprinkled with water.
Before I left I contacted my Virginia provider of the Washington native plant, Oregon Box. Having gone through a fairly exhaustive and exhausting process to find the plant in the quantity I wanted, the plant then took an extreme dislike to the USDA-required spray prior to shipping. It had to be revived in a greenhouse; then I left for vacation. I didn’t want the plant shipped while I was gone, fearing it would die in a box, which would be both ironic (it’s a boxwood, get it?) and expensively wasteful. I arrived home to learn that the irrigation system of the greenhouse had failed and the plants had ‘cooked’ in the greenhouse.
This is a plant whose main virtue (to me) is its relative lack of distiguishing characteristics: no thorns or spines, no blooms or fruits, small to mid-sized. What makes the plant desirable to me is its evergreen broadleafness. Planted toward the front of my planting areas, Oregon Box would provide year round structure and be a sub-shrub anchor for my naturalizing forest margins. Finding the plant was a quest, knowing that a dozen and a half of my plant unicorns had died just beyond my grasp left me feeling like Max Rockatansky, only without any homoerotic punk-rocker biker gangs to waste in the post-apocalytic Australian outback. I can only feel sad, and so therefore must memorialize the plants in Haiku (sorry, Basho).
Oregon Box Leaf-bereft in a greenhouse Dead small greenicorn
Let us not make it goodbye, Paxistema myrsinites. Lets us make it au revoir. Or maybe I just need more Evergreen Huckleberry.