I have never really thought of my self as a gardener. It is typical for me to have a garden to raise
food, but that is driven by the desire for better quality, freshness, and taste. In high school I performed my first ‘plant rescue’ transplanting (transported by bicycle) some woodland wild flowers from where they were going to be destroyed to a place that was recovering from a previous disturbance. Another activity that identifies me as a gardener is that every time I move I wonder about how my gardens do without me. At our house in Portageville, MO Kelly and I had constructed an awesome vegetable garden, a sand prairie bed, a spring woodland bed, and a host of other native
flowerbeds – it hurt when we left, especially knowing that the carefully nurtured soil of our raised bed vegetable garden had been scattered over the back lawn. I still wonder about the fate of the trout lilies, trilliums, mayapples, jack-in-the-pulpits, and wild ginger in the spring woodland bed – the bloom progression was so inspiring to watch.
Well now we are leaving Idaho. We built an awesome raised-bed, vegetable garden with trucked in good soil along with adding a fair amount of homemade compost. We have two front beds planted to some very cool native plants. Among these are some plants that I removed from a rock quarry – Lomatium gormanii, Lewisia rediviva (bitterroot), and Castilleja angustifolia (Indian paintbrush). The C. angustifolia is really special to me because I moved it as a seedling along with with its host. To see all these plants looking so good this spring says that I moved them successfully. It is kind of sad I won’t get to see the bitterroot and paintbrush bloom, but I have to look forward to the plant adventures that Tennessee will bring.
Just a note: collecting plants from the wild involves a certain ethic, please collect only common plants and never remove a significant portion of a population – unless you are rescue collecting from a construction site. Kelly and I have purchased many plants from native plant nurseries, but we also collect seed, and on occasion plants from the wild. Collecting from private property is easy, just ask the land owner. Federal property often has a personal use policy that will allow you to remove a small amount of seeds or plants (NATIONAL PARKS ARE OFF LIMITS – no matter how little you want to collect). State properties are all different, talk to the land manager.