I was working my summer job, trying to survive heat indexes in the triple digits for two weeks before returning to the frosty confines of Room 308. This day’s landscape project was a school cleanup, not exactly my favorite type of project. I greatly prefer building a new flower bed or re-designing and updating an existing one. Clean-up–that’s nobody’s favorite, but I digress. I was not expecting a story of redemption on this day.
This particular school’s sign out front was surrounded by nandinas, a plant with enough variety to offer different looks throughout the year. They don’t have to be pruned much, so it was a wise choice of plants when the bed was built. However, years have passed since the bed was originally built. Once-small briars and creeping vines had matured to the point that they covered the once-dominant nandinas. Covered, as in you couldn’t even see some of the green, yellow, and red bushes.
A Day of Clean-Up
Cleaning out the bed took the better part of the day. The job called for removing everything–briars, vines, and the plants themselves. The bed had reached the tipping point at which the cost of taking everything out and starting over was less than bringing the bed back to its former state. Instead of focusing on the hours of work that I had ahead of me, I saw an opportunity.
I am a plant rescuer.
One day, I’ll count the number of plants in my yard that I have rescued from various beds, accepted from friends who were looking for a good home for once-loved plants, and divided from existed plants. I take pride in bringing rescued plants back to glory. I’ve lost plenty along the way, but the cost of my landscape is negligible for the contents therein.
These nandinas–I thought there were six or eight of them at first glance–were coming home with me. After hours of digging and pulling, the school had a clean palate for a new design. I received several compliments on how much better the bed looked. Back home, my work was not finished. Many briars and vines remained entangled in the shrubs. I raced the clock to get what turned out to be nineteen nandina bushes cleaned up and back in the ground before the heat destroyed them.
They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A school in my town is pleased (for now) with a clean circle of dirt. I am happy to welcome nineteen nandinas to their new home–cleaned out, cleaned up, and cared for daily. Draw your own analogies from my little story of redemption. As for me, rescued plants remind me of another story of redemption. My own.
Al Ainsworth is the author of six books:
Coach Dave Season Four: Travel Ball[/bluebox]