Friday, February 16, 2007

Thoughts on Gardening and Global Warming II.

Here is the second "installment" of somewhat random thoughts on gardening and global warming. Again, the issue of 'connectedness'.
I was thinking about the difference between BUYING a plant for the garden, and STARTING my own. And why it matters.
Somehow, in the 'consumerized' version, a tree, or shrub, just seems like an item that has been placed there in the yard, like furniture. Maybe, if it is purchased at a small size, a sense of nurturing takes over, and the plant seems to belong. This is especially true if it is planted and continues to develop over the years.
I have a different sense for a plant that I start myself. If started from a cutting or seed, it feels more like it is part of me. If started from a plant that was passed down from my family, or a gift from a friend, or a 'rescue' from the street, then even more, I feel like I am connected to this part of nature, and it is connected to me. It's not just something that I bought at a store.
The ginkgo tree in the back yard was grown from seeds that my Dad collected from Herman Degee's yard in Quincy Illinois. That was the ginkgo tree that I was taught was special, when I was 10 years old (special due to the primordial character of Ginkgo biloba). My dad has a seedling tree from that original source in his yard, and now I have one in my yard as well. I feel completely different about this tree, than any other item in the garden. I really WANT it to grow and flourish.
Less intense, but similar, is how I feel about the fig trees that I started from cuttings (mailed in exchange from garden web members, or rescued from a neglected tree on a vacant lot), and the forsythia that I grew from a small pruning (picked up on the street while walking the dogs), and the mint that I grew from a sprig seen in rescued yard waste that had been discarded in the dog park (and which turns out to be more flavorful - really - than the plants that I bought at a local nursery). Then there are the Chinese chives, grown from seeds from plants that were grown from seeds, 3 plant-generations from seeds that Ning brought here from China. This variety is more robust and stronger in flavor compared to the nursery-grown ones (probably because it was a local agricultural, not horticultural, variety). A separate set of Chinese chives came from my parent's yard, having grown there for 35 or 40 years as a weed. I don't know how they will taste yet. Others - roses, one started from a bouquet brought to work, another 'rustled' from an abandoned telephone-pole rose that is no longer there.
An additional step removed, are the vegetables and flowers grown annually from purchased seeds. I think that if I saved my own seeds (obviously, not from the hybrids), the connection would be stronger. But as it is, they are still a little more 'mine' than ones bought as plants at the store.
What does this have to do with global warming? Again, if we don't feel connected to nature, then it's difficult to be motivated to conserve out natural world. And that connectness is a lot stronger, for me, if it comes from the heart, instead of the wallet. If we could "un-consumerize" and "re-connect" to the life growing around us, we might feel more strongly about wanting to do something about it.
(photo above, a ginkgo on Mill Plain, source of more seeds that I planted for the past 2 years, and now I need to find homes for the seedling trees).
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