Friday, June 19, 2020

Foxglove Farm
A sample of this year's crop.

As June unfolds in my garden, I play my annual game of hide and seek. Foxglove - tall spires of trumpet-shaped blossoms in shades of pale pink - pop up in here and there, planted not according to my designs but by the whims of the breezes that blew last year’s seeds this way and that until they found a happy place to settle in and put down roots. 

These foxglove make themselves right at home. 

But of course, I’m the one who invited them here in the first place. Or more precisely, my mom. 

* * * * *

We were driving through North Cascade National Park in late spring, a pleasure tour of the local mountain range that was still mostly buried under many feet of snow. But through the foothills, warm winds had coaxed the wildflowers into bloom and in particular, the stands of wild foxglove were intoxicating. 

“Let’s get some!” my industrious mother suggested. 

“Mom,” I said sternly. “This is a National Prk. We can’t just help ourselves to these plants. “

“Well, I don’t know why not,” she came back at me. “Look at them. They’re growing by the thousands, right up along the edge of the road. It’s not like we’re traipsing through pristine alpine meadows to rip them out. We can pull over and yank a few out of the ground right along the side of the road.”

Hmm. They were so pretty. And she was right; there were an awful lot of them. 

“Just pull over. I’ll do the yanking,” my mom doubled down. 

“Am I pulling over?” my husband diplomatically asked.

I gave in. “Alright. Pull over.”

My mom wasted no time. She opened the back of my car, found a stack of old newspapers with which to protect the carpet because stealing plants from the guardians of nature is one thing but tracking soil into the back of anyone’s car is quite another. Thank goodness this was back in the prehistoric days before curbside recycling when we had to deliver our used newspapers to a recycling center and therefore often had a stash in the back of the car. For that matter, these were the days when we actually read old-fashioned newsprint rather than clicking and scrolling through the day’s headlines. Seems like a long, long time ago. 

Anyway, once the getaway car was properly prepared, my mom deftly yanked a dozen foxglove plants from an arm's length of the car, cleverly selecting a nice balance of colors, laid them out in the newspapers, then hopped back inside, breathless with excitement. Loose gravel shot from the tires as my husband gunned the Subaru back on the road, and we were off. 

Back at home, my mom and I tenderly tucked our stolen plants into my double-dug, well-composted garden beds, a far cry from their previous roadside accommodation. Though wildflowers often resist transplanting, especially while in full bloom, these foxgloves didn’t mind a bit. Not only did they survive; they thrived. 

And ever since, from that day to this one, the descendants of this flowers have multiplied many times over, gracing my gardens year after year with their impossibly tall spires and elegant tubular blooms. 

I'm glad I listened to my mom. 

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