Michigan Native Plants

  (SAGINAW, Michigan)
Wildflowers Native Plants
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SNOB -vs- STEWARD

My blog has a built-in readership. I also write an irreverent closed-circulation ‘Newsletter’ when finding time back home, humorously ranting on a current topic & sharing email content (cartoons; articles; videos; hyperlinks) gleaned from a hundred plus monthly emails.  Each not only reflects the dark humor of my entertainment industry coworkers but their divergent views & how well-read & informed they are as a group.

But I was a little taken back by their emails inquiring on the disappearing Ladyslippers. Lynn & I have shared divisions, a spring gift of the ultimate “bragging rights” plant for their gardening wife or mother. But these somewhat jaded Stagehands, even without this personal affinity, were genuinely concerned . . . . . “Where did they disappear from?” “Have you found out who took them?” “How did you start doing this?” “Can I come next year?”

So this blog entry will be an easy one.  Following is an article originally written in 2007 for the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center Newsletter. And sorry guys, this is not my gig & is by invitation only.

 

Like a rogue Great White smelling blood, she circled our booth, the taste of our ‘Native Michigan Wildflowers’ sign exciting the length of her body.  She sized up her prey’s wares, unresponsive to greetings.

“Is there anything in particular your looking for?”  Now confident in her victim’s helplessness, she bit: “Oh Noooo, I wouldn’t grow anything you have here.  I ONLY grow plants from (blank) County, (blank) Township in MY garden!”

I had been bitten by a Wildflower Snob, elitists whose amazing Native gardens are planted from predetermined geographic or natural boundaries.  But let me tell you about her polar opposite . . . . .

Though introduced via phone only an hour before, we were thrown a bottle of water & immediately hustled into her truck for a drive to a stand of Native Orchid.

She knows all her neighbors, evident as we blew past the farmhouse with a returned wave, speeds & driving reminiscent of ‘Lil Mule in Romancing the Stone.  “We have to get there before the cows turn for milking,” she explained.  “The bull in the next pasture does not like me; and I not him.”  An embarrassing tale here but one I was smart enough not to broach.

After a walk along the creek, it was up to the top of the hill behind her house to look at Bloodroot - Sanguinaria candensis.  “I hauled manure up here last fall (You & two Sherpa guides I thought!) & look at how big the leaves are.”  BIG!?  Their leaf size now shamed Mayapple - Podophyllum peltatum!

This ridgeline defined her ‘area’s’ western boundary;  Down the hill, across the road to the river less than 700 yards; A mile to the county road to the north & about two miles to the state highway to the south.  In about a square mile she gathers her wildflowers & weeds & seeds for her garden, a wildflower garden kissed by the angels.

But more important she stewards this land, tending plants she does not own & educates her neighboring landowners on the importance of native plants they care little about.

So I smiled as the manicured Snob walked away.  Because I knew a Steward with calluses & character she’d never have or understand.

TimB

 

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