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  • Arnold Arboretum

    Ever have a day when you say to yourself, right at the beginning, I’m about to have a splendid time?

    Today was just such a day.

    The shadows have changed. Woolly bear caterpillars, a precursor of fall, are wiggling through the grass. And conscious that winter lurks right around the corner here in New England, I found the bright sun and pleasant 80 degree temps all the more precious as we set out for the hour drive to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain for the annual plant sale.

    We arrived at the huge wrought iron entrance gate about thirty minutes early. A good thing too, because crowds of bargain-seeking gardeners already roamed the grounds. Lucky to get a spot at all, we didn’t complain about the parking space, located about a half-mile distance from the sales area. No hardship taking an early morning stroll that took us past beautiful ponds lined with ornamental grasses, and specimen trees and bushes, all handily labeled.

    Halfway to my destination, I stalled to admire a spectacular and fragrant Clerodendrum trichotomun (Harlequin Glorybower). While sniffing the pinky-white blossoms, I managed to accidentally on purpose sneak a few of the startling blue drupes into DH’s pocket. He looked at me cross-eyed, but he’ll thank my larceny later when we plant the seeds in the ground.

    Inside the sales area gate, we collected our member’s coupon for two free plants , the description booklet with corresponding plant numbers, and then joined the L-O-N-G line awaiting the 10:00 admittance. Good vibes electrified the air, and little wonder, what with choice and unusual seedlings ranging in price from a low $6 to $10.

    Shortly thereafter, the guard motioned us ahead and we stormed the tables.

    Picture the annual designer wedding gown sale at Filene’s basement. Now amp up that sort of anticipatory pandemonium by several degrees. Because, let’s face the facts, sweet brides-to-be have nothing on cagey gardeners out to get their greedy hands on all they can carry. I was in manure heaven.

    Having practiced my campaign ahead of time, I went into the fray, elbows out, warding off attacks from both sides, a no-holds barred, every plant enthusiast for him/herself, merciless tactic.

    According to the terms of our discussed strategy, when our mostly filled plastic carrier trays became too cumbersome to carry when weaving in and out of the crowd, DH left me to guard our selections while he went off alone on reconnaissance to scout down additional plants.

    As soon as I took my hand off one of the carriers to scratch my poison ivy outbreak, people lunged for the unprotected plants. After battling off one feisty octogenarian, I thereafter ignored my itchy blisters and kept my attention front and center. Plant sale gardeners are the most aggressive of the species.

    Despite it all, we left with 16 choice seedlings.

    Now, these are small plants. I’ll never live long enough to see some of them mature.

    It doesn’t matter.

    Like the beginning of a splendid day, it’s the promise that counts not the fulfillment.

    See below for the common names of the plants I purchased. If anybody would like a description email me privately.

    (1) Chinese Fringetree

    (2) Oyama Magnolia-

    (3) Chinese Redbud

    (4) Smoketree

    (5) Carol Mackie Daphne

    (6) Enkianthus Campanulatus ‘Showy Lantern’

    (7) ‘Claudie’ Hydrangea (2)

    (8) White Mulberry

    (9) Cheerful Giant Azalea

    (10)Late Lilac ‘Charles Hepburn’

    (11)Striped Sedge ‘Evergold’

    (12)Mounding Grass ‘Albo-striata’

    (13)Harlequin Glorybower

    (14)Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

    (15) Mountain Laurel ‘Kaleidoscope’