Thursday, March 8, 2012

armed and dangerous

Our hellebore is a thing of beauty.
If it is true that perennials crawl the first year, walk the second and run the third, ours is leaping over hurdles and high fiving its companions.
It has been growing in our garden for more than ten years but was adopted without a birth certificate so I have no idea how old it really is. I am guessing close to twenty.
It is one of the few plants that we simply couldn't leave behind when we made the move from Walnut Grove to Aldergrove seven years ago.
We dug it out of the ground in fall and found a place for it near the entry at our new home. We hoped it wouldn't be homesick.
It didn't bat an eye.
Each year it has increased in size and will soon be visible on Google Earth.
I remember the first time I saw this old friend; our hellebore.
Walnut Grove was intersected with old trails that seemed to start in the middle of nowhere and go to about the same sort of place. I suppose this is what happens when an area that has been rural, sells off by bits and bites as a community develops.
Old homes disappear and in time, property is subdivided and sold.
Being a frugal gardener, I often approached developers to see if plants could be rescued. The answer was always yes, and our garden was soon bulging at the seams with vintage roses, Four O'clocks, spring bulbs and evergreen shrubs.
When I spotted the hellebore, it was living on borrowed time. I dashed home for a shovel and pail and returned to size up the project.
I tromped in a circle around the plant a few times and took a tentative stab at the ground with the shovel.
Grass had grown in around the plant years before and it would be tough going to dig it out.
I lined up the blade of the shovel and stepped down.
I moved around the plant, stomping and chiseling away.
I leapt on the edge of the shovel with both feet and jumped awkwardly backwards.
A movement to the side caught my eye.
I was suddenly aware that I was being watched rather closely.
My flailings had been monitored with some fascination by a very large, striped garden snake.
Finally concluding that I was armed and dangerous, it hastened homeward.
I rather shakily plucked the hellebore from the ground and hastened home myself.

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