I've decided that I have a penchant for rescuing abandoned or neglected plants. Last year I had a blast whisking wild tigerlilies away from an old railroad line. This year I had my eyes set on another orphan.
Every day on my way home from the gym I drive past an empty lot on Ridge Avenue where an older cape cod has recently been torn down to make way for business development. I hate seeing cute, historic, old homes being razed to the ground all in the name of rampant capitalism. Every time I pass this lot I think of all the families and generations that lived in that house, raised children, laughed, cried, and of course, tended flowers. I love the tangible connection to the past that plants can give us, especially stately plants that can live for generations.
This week while driving home from the gym and waiting at the stoplight, my eye was drawn to three deeply pink balls of color huddled alone and deserted on the edge of this empty lot. It's that time of spring where peonies are starting to bud, swell, and explode into silky petals of pink, white, and magenta. I've been on the hunt for a peony this year - I ordered a Festiva Maxima from Old House Garden Heirloom Bulbs for fall delivery - so my mind was already there. Similar to my love for rhubarb plants, I love that peonies can last for generations, even a century, all the while growing fuller and more mature.
With some squinting and rolling down of the window, I was able to tell that these three lonely plants were indeed peonies, most likely the only thing remaining of the former house and its owners. At first I just said "ohhhh, that's too bad" and kept on driving. This happened for a few days in a row until I started to develop a soft spot for these brave little guys. They no longer had a house to adorn or an owner to love and coax them, but they were still going to bloom and do what they do best, year after year. I started to think to myself "wouldn't it just be crazy if I pulled over on the side of Ridge Avenue with shovel in-hand and dug up these plants and sped off?" It started out as one of those "haha" kind of thoughts, but quickly morphed into a "I think I could really do this" kind of thing.
Well, today was the breaking point. Work was slow, the rain has finally slacked off, and I was itching to get out into the yard. I packed up the shovel, a few junky plastic pots, threw on some mud-duds, and headed out. If you know anything about Ridge Avenue around the Oakley/Pleasant Ridge area, you'll know that it's a very busy street with lots of traffic. My target area is right across from the Steak and Shake before the entrance ramp to 71. Yes, I know, I'm crazy.
I did a few drive-by passes to scope out the area, where I could pull my car in, etc. Finally I decided that I was going to go for it - I pulled my little Honda over on the side of the road, popped the trunk, took shovel and pots in hand, and dug like my life depended on it. Within three minutes or so I had unearthed all three peonies, plunked them into pots, packed everything up in the trunk, and sped off like a bat out of hell.
Flush with adventure, on the way home I stopped at the infamous railroad tigerlily patch and dug myself a couple more clumps to plant alongside the new peonies. When I got home, I unloaded my fugitives and gave them all a nice new home around our back deck, which has been an eyesore since we bought this house. Now these adopted peonies and tigerlilies will once again have someone to ooo-and-ahh over them and appreciate the beauty they bring to this world.
It's hard for me not to laugh when writing this, it sounds so ludicrous. I guess there are plenty of other unsavory ways to get my kicks in life. If rescuing a few orphan plants can ring my bell, then what the heck. Just as long as I don't get myself arrested...