The mystery plant

           We saw a sign on a DIY craft page that had stenciled out in whimsical lettering, “Free Weeds! Pick your own.” My daughter thinks it is the funniest sign she has ever seen and wants to paint one and hang it up in the yard because, even though it barely June, the kids aren’t fond of the face that I’ve decided to make this the summer they learn how to grow a garden and maintain flowerbeds.
            I’m a rather mean mom, I know. And maybe I’m just getting older and grouchier, but kids these days just don’t know how to do these things. So this summer, they will learn the value of dirt-stained fingers, brightly colored cut flowers, and the immeasurably beautiful snap of a fresh green bean. And they will complain the entire time, I’m sure, but I don’t care. It will be a lesson in patience, and I’m 85% sure they’ll thank me someday. (70%?)
            Enter late spring, when weeds begin emerging from the ground and no school means plenty of time to up close and personal with the dirt and the “flowers out of place” as I like to say. We have names for them that are anything but fancy, but helps keep things straight for kids of all ages. There are the ouchie weeds (dig low and deep because the thorns aren’t on the roots), the heart-shaped twirly weeds (follow them around to find out where they actually started), and the baby trees (such is life when you live in the woods).
            I am not the weed expert I wish I was, but for the most part with my knowledge and their grunt work, I think we can have a successful gardening season. And while they manage the majority of it, I can safely watch one particular plant.
            I get a lot of my plants from friends who like to split things, and others I get from native plant sales because I like to do my part with the whole nature thing. But I never actually keep track or write things down so my yard is full of flowerbeds with mismatched plants that were planted with love and good intention.
In one corner, there grows a mystery plant, perfectly placed to obstruct the view of a gutter and while demonstrating weed pulling I informed my kids to not pull that plant, no matter what. Because like a lot of my gardens, I have no idea what it is.
Every time I pass the bed, I notice how much it has grown and wonder if there will ever be a flower. I wonder if it will bloom and go to seed, if it will spread, if it will maliciously multiply overnight and take over the entire yard.
And so we don’t pull. We wait. And even the teacher learns patience.

Originally written 5.29.16



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