Plant-Based Friendships

There is nothing like a stump for sparking thought--because you want to think about anything besides the miserable task at hand, the mind wanders free and far.  
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We got a bit of rain, less than a quarter inch, but the plants rejoiced and sparkled.
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Because of the rain I avoided my slope project, fearing slippery conditions.  I noticed the 'Abraham Darby' rose in the back had black spot, rust, powdery mildew, and anthracnose on every leaf;  I realized it was far past time to get rid of it.  I felt bad until I started digging it out-the roots went down and down, and there were plenty of them.  It fought me all the way.  
The pink-rose stairway:
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Once the rose was out, oh joy, I could work on the stump of a Eucalyptus that has been a thorn in my side since we moved here.  It started out as a tree growing at a forty-five degree angle, became a stump, then became a stump surrounded by a retaining wall at the bottom of a stairway, taking up prime space.  I didn't notice it because the landscape guys tossed a  few shovels of loose earth over it.  I thought they'd removed it.  Nope.  
I'd rather have a rose than a stump in that spot:
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Message to self:  never, never again pay a landscape guy until after you've dug around the work site to see what they've left you to deal with, hidden under a few shovels of loose earth.  
'Purple Splash' holds up well to a little rain.
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As I dug, dug, dug around the stump, I started thinking about plant-based friendships.  I know people I discuss only plants with.  I know little or nothing about them beyond that, but can identify most of what they grow, what their favorites are, and the problems with their soil, their irrigation systems, and their pest populations.  
Carnivore!  No problem!
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The internet has undoubtedly exploded the number of plant-based or interest-based friendships.  Now we may effortlessly roam the world and share obsessions, good and bad.  There is, I have discovered, a whole culture of people making stop-action movies with Legos, people who love Crassula ovata (G-d only knows why), along with people who want to how to build terrorism weapons--good grief, Crassula ovatas are bad enough--and so on.  Lego-based friendships, Agave-based friendships.  
Ah, that rain felt so good!
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So as we find ways of sharing obesssions, do we know less and less about each other?  People far away become closer, those closer become more remote, lost in their own obsessions. I can share plant admiration with people who, if I knew their religion, or political beliefs, or cigarette smoking habits, I might never want to speak to or get within five hundred miles of.  Is this bad, or good? 
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Is it less of a friendship, to talk only about plants?  Pain nearly always creeps into plant conversations--the rose planted for a dead mother, the grief that does not heal, the career that failed, the garden lost in an ugly divorce--should those things be discussed and examined instead, or only briefly touched in the dance of talk, as the bee touches a flower that has no nectar?  
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My mind wandered free and far, but the stump didn't move.  I've learned with a stump, the first thing you do is get out a big tarp and decide where you are going to pile all the dirt.  If the area is sloped, you have to dig yourself a flat place to stand so you can dig effectively and safely.  And you must dig and dig and dig.  There must be space to rock the stump to loosen it, or space to get a chainsaw positioned to cut the stump up.    
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The breeze spun through the garden, the dirt pile on the tarp got larger and larger.  Plant-based friendships.  Hmm.  I'm ankle deep in mud and the stump does not move. Nearby, a fledgling finch, peeping to be fed, follows its mother hopping through the fat pink roses. 
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  1. So true, both on the the horror of finding stumps buried under a thin layer of soil, and on the plant friends. I have plant friends I am happy to meet at nurseries and those that have become friends outside of plants as well.

    1. The problem with meeting plant friends at nurseries is that you talk each other into buying more plants that way--wait, did I say "problem"?

  2. Great post!

    You've reminded me that one of my goals for this year was to connect with more gardeners in my neighborhood (since currently my Internet to local garden friends ratio is about 10 to 1).

    Good luck with that stump!

    1. That is a wise goal. I've so enjoyed my local garden club.

      Thanks Alan, I will need some luck with that monster.

  3. Dear Hoov - about that stump, I'm assuming you need the space, because there's an old stump from a euc we inherited, one of a trio, that at various times fell over the garden. The stump can stay. The stump of smoke tree Grace is still in place too, nearly swamped by summer growth of other plants. I pull out Grace's new shoots and hope to fatigue her. Looks like it's working. About friendships -- it might seem peculiar to talk to strangers only about plants, but is it any more peculiar than never talking about plants/design with closest family and friends who don't share your interests? Which is stranger, I wonder.

    Good luck with that stump.

    1. My poor husband must listen to me ramble on about this or that plant. He's very patient! It is true though, there are certain things verboten to speak of with this or that person--is it cowardice, or discretion, or distance?

      About the stump--no, I don't need the space. I WANT the space.

  4. This was one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read and I am forwarding it to some friends. And the stump? It was the thing that helped you to ponder. I say it stays :) Thank you

  5. Hoov, my first action when addressing a stump issue is : can I dig it out myself without injury to my person ? I always try , but have no hesitation in giving up and hiring it out if I must.I've dug out way more that I have hired out. It's well worth a couple hundred bucks to save my back.

    My plant friendships with my imaginary friends on the internet are among my most treasured relationships...many of them I have now met 'in person'.

    1. Plant friendships are treasures for me as well. :)

  6. As to the stump, I have adopted a new approach: leave it and put a flowering container on it. If the stump is big enough, turn it into a planter. Much easier on the back. As to plant-based friendships, I think it is all to the good. The internet just makes it easier to have many more of this type of relationship. But I think there are people you know on a fairly narrow basis - at work, in the neighborhood, at the barber shop, etc. I don't need to know more about these folks. Sometimes the friendship broadens, often it does not, and I think that is just fine. We don't have fewer intimates because we have more plant-based friends.

    1. Well said on friendships! But the stump has to go. ;)

  7. I don't think a friendship is any less valuable when it is based on a common interest; in fact, I think there needs to be more opportunities for people to connect across space, gender, ethnicity, class, age . . . gardening does that so beautifully.

    Your posts have been very thoughtful and poetic lately. I've really enjoyed reading them.

    1. Absolutely, perhaps even more valuable.

      Thanks, you are very kind!


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