This morning, I chaperoned a field trip, and one of the other moms, Julie H., handed me a sack. Inside were pumpkin seeds, four different kinds, including a blue one, which she said was her favorite last year. She couldn’t remember all the names, but her face lit up with excitement as she described the attributes of each. This one was bumpy. That one was white, and another was good for cooking. They were only seeds, but . . . her gift was priceless, for it was her friendship she shared.
When I was a young gardener, I had no money, and for years, my finances continued to be between slim and none. Still, I had neighbors and friends, and they provided me with the best plants in their gardens. Some of those I carried to my Guthrie garden twenty years ago, and every time I gaze over its new growth, I feel loved and honored by all the wonderful gardeners I’ve known.
Passalong plants are often the best garden performers. If they weren’t, people wouldn’t have enough to share. So, when someone local gives me a plant, I often receive one specially suited for my Oklahoma landscape. When I return the favor, I usually make a better friend.
When I pull weeds, or water in a new plant, I always think of dear Wanda F. There isn’t a spot where I look that doesn’t have some plant from Wanda. I have dozens of daylilies (ones which have the best plant habits), a lovely, little black-stemmed maidenhair fern, Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes,’ and both blue and purple Phlox divaricata. I could offer other examples, but there are other friends too, who provided my garden with lush flowers and foliage. There’s Paul, who gave me sackfuls of a particular fern I admired in his shady front garden. There’s my earliest garden friend, Katie M., who gave me the best old heirloom four o’clocks, a native Rudbeckia, and the most hardy and resilient, pink Phlox paniculata, which I’ve also passed along to others. She gave me obedient plant too, but I won’t hold it against her.
Recently, my passalong list extended across the miles to Gail from Clay and Limestone and Barbara from Mr. McGregor’s Daughter. I can tell you that there is no greater thrill than receiving a box with your friend’s name printed across the return address. It’s even better than a beautiful box from your favorite nursery. Last summer, when Pam from Digging and her mother visited, Pam gave me a container of her ‘Best of Friends’ daylily.
I think that speaks volumes about all passalong plants. If you love something in another person’s garden, admire it and then offer something beautiful from your own. Gardeners are generous people. They will often accept and then give you your heart’s desire.
What better gift for the planet than sharing a little bit of your paradise with someone else? Happy Earth Day Everyone.