The grass that made me cry, and my best organic gardening tip ever

avellana 'Contorta' in Amherst NY
Corylus avellana "Contorta"

Adventures in Organic Gardening

By Laura Sileo-Lepkyj

It was potting day last weekend. Oh, how I expected the tears to flow.

We’ll be moving in January and I had made a list of a few of the rarer items in my garden that I want to take with me: the newly planted peach tree saplings, the purchased but luckily never planted Japanese holly, the similarly unplanted Corylus avellana “Contorta.”

Since the ground will be frozen solid when we move, I needed to dig up my saplings and a few other plants now and transplant them to temporary homes in plastic nursery pots.

Japanese holly & other plants in Amherst basement
Japanese holly & other plants

I religiously save nursery tags in a box dedicated to this purpose, and as I fished through four years worth of tags, I fully expected to cry, remembering when I planted my babies.  No tears came though, and I was happy to discover that some of my plants were hardy to Zone 3 and could remain potted and outdoors until moving day.

“You’ll be fine out here, little one,” I told an evergreen, giving its pot a loving pat.

As I dug up the plants, I told them that I was sorry I was uprooting them from their homes and putting them in temporary storage in a fluorescent-lit basement. They had to believe me when I said it was for their own good.  The new owner of the house could not possibly love them the way I did; they should be happy I was taking them with me.

Still no tears.

I spent the morning in my gardens for the first time in weeks and it felt so good.  I was making the last intimate connections with my plants before they went to sleep for the winter.  When they awoke I would be gone.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' in Amherst NY
Miscanthus sinensis "Morning Light"

As I made my final rounds to ensure that I had not forgotten anything, I stopped as I came upon Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light.’ It has lived in my garden for three years, but never flowered—until now.  I stood there for a moment, motionless, as I looked at its fluffy plumes.  I took off my gardening gloves in the cold 40-degree day, lovingly stroking the plumes, and wept, thanking this humble plant for its farewell gift to me.

Which leads me to my best gardening tip ever: love your plants.  Don’t just like them, love them. Speak to them, encourage them, praise them for all of their hard “plant work,” caress them, admire them, and love them like the friends they are.

It was potting day last weekend. Oh, how I expected the tears to flow.

We’ll be moving in January and I had made a list of a few of the rarer items in my garden that I want to take with me: the newly planted peach tree saplings, the purchased but luckily never planted Japanese holly, the similarly unplanted Corylus avellana ‘Contorta.’

Since the ground will be frozen solid when we move, I needed to dig up my saplings and a few other plants now and transplant them to temporary homes in plastic nursery pots.

I religiously save nursery tags in a box dedicated to this purpose, and as I fished through four years worth of tags, I fully expected to cry, remembering when I planted my babies. No tears came though, and I was happy to discover that some of my plants were hardy to Zone 3 and could remain potted and outdoors until moving day.

“You’ll be fine out here, little one,” I told an evergreen, giving its pot a loving pat.

As I dug up the plants, I told them that while I was sorry I was uprooting them from their homes and putting them in temporary storage in a fluorescent-lit basement. They had to believe me when I said it was for their own good. The new owner of the house could not possible love them the way I did; they should be happy I was taking them with me.

Still no tears.

I spent the morning in my gardens for the first time in weeks and it felt so good. I was making the last intimate connections with my plants before they went to sleep for the winter. When they awoke I would be gone.

As I made my final rounds to ensure that I had not forgotten anything, I stopped as I came upon Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light.’ It has lived in my garden for three years, but never flowered—until now. I stood there for a moment, motionless, as I looked at its fluffy plumes. I took off my gardening gloves in the cold 40-degree day, lovingly stroking the plumes, and wept, thanking this humble plant for its farewell gift to me.

Which leads me to my best gardening tip ever: love your plants. Don’t just like them, love them. Speak to them, encourage them, praise them for all of their hard “plant work,” caress them, admire them, and love them like the friends they are.

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3 Comments on “The grass that made me cry, and my best organic gardening tip ever

  1. Thank you for sharing that. I don’t anticipate a move soon, but I know it will be hard for me too when that day comes. I have so many beloved plants. Are you moving very far?
    Kirsten

  2. But what a wonderful welcome the new owners will have next spring when your beloved plants that are left behind begin to bloom! You’re leaving a beautiful legacy, Laura.

  3. Kirsten,
    We are moving to Orleans county, about 45 mins from our current home. I had always said I could never leave my house b/c of all of my gardens, but now I am, & looking forwards to planting new ‘friends.’

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