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Saving the trees

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Spark friend Watermellen wrote beautifully today about snow, chestnut blossoms, and Yeats - and it triggered a memory of spring in North America, the lovely flowers, the uncertain weather - which led to my response - which is today's blog.

Viva sweet spring (e.e. cummings)

I think it's spring that I miss the most, and my lilac bushes which I rescued from the bulldozers and city hall. There was a lovely wooded area across the street from my parents' house, which was being torn down for a new, larger road. (We walked through this area to go to and from school, and I loved watching the changing of the plants, as if they were the guards of the seasons.) I was 16, and began my first foray into politics and my first act of civil disobedience - numerous phone calls to the college campus, maintenance, city hall, parks department, you name it, I called them - after several days of calling and no answers, my father and I waited until dark and walked across and dug up several lilac bushes, which we then planted in our backyard, right outside my bedroom window. The lilacs bloomed the following year, as if to say thank you. I'll never forget that expedition with my dad, knowing we were doing the right thing, however illegal it might or might not be. We went back the next night and took out a bunch of rhododendron, which we planted in the front yard, facing their former home. The following year, there was another area on campus being "renovated" - turned into a parking lot - I stole another lilac, by myself. Renegade gardeners, we were!

I should add, as a footnote, that no one ever re-planted the area. However, nearly 40 years later, the plants that volunteered to grow are tall and strong, with 40-50 ft pines, a variety of deciduous trees, small flowering bushes filling in the gaps. But no lilacs, no rhododendron - only the ones still growing in my father's yard. He gives me a report each year, letting me know how my lilacs are doing. We both remember our surreptitious forays in the night, stealing plants and giving them a new home.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    2901 days ago
    Love this story of "stealth gardening" -- some of my happiest memories of my parents are gardening memories!!

    I survive winter by having flowers on my kitchen table (and often in my bedroom, too) every day, always. But nothing matches the pleasure of walking around my own garden and choosing some of what's in bloom to come inside.

    Lilacs: they do smell so good! I have a huge huge bouquet of lilacs and japonica in the dining room (and my new Mother's Day secateurs made snipping them much much easier!).

    2902 days ago
    I LOVE THIS! This so warm my heart. I love the criminal thinking mind you have, save the lilacs and bushes. All I can say is that I dub you Robin Hood of the Lilac Bushes!

    Thank you for this blog! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2902 days ago
    Glad you and your dad saved some of the plants....also created a beautiful memory and a gorgeous yard!

    Mary Anne emoticon
    2902 days ago
  • SAPNA.
    That is so sad it makes me want to cry.
    2902 days ago
    I couldn't get anyone to commit themselves - I mean, someone BOUGHT the trees and planted them - someone else decided to BULLDOZE them - why couldn't someone say "sure, dig them up, save them"????????

    LOVE the "guerilla gardening" LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

    2902 days ago
    emoticon I've done some guerilla gardening myself.
    I don't know WHY there are so many hoops to jump through, to be able to plant trees on city owned property, and give away FREE trees and FREE labor.
    2902 days ago
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