Replacing the winterkill

The trouble with all those beautiful shrubs and trees in the garden is a winter comes along like the last one and kills a bunch of them stone cold dead. I have noted across the District quite a selection of fruit trees whose buds swelled with the first promise of spring, then withered, turned yellow, and died. I lost six, two plums, a purple leaf sand cherry, a snowball, some raspberries, and a phlox. Normally a midnight stroll with the shovel and a pail could replace some of the damage, but I’m no longer nimble enough (not to mention the mosquito clouds) to make a quick and quiet visit to some over-stocked garden in need of some judicious thinning. Plus I’ve spent so much on gewgaws for my ‘new’ pontoon that my budget for nursery centre purchases has been severely constrained. That means I’ll have to resort to begging.

Maury was generous to bring me in a couple of cherry trees that he rooted out of his yard. And with the nice moist weather we are experiencing it looks like they’ll take. My Clematis is another story. After dying back to the root for the third year in a row the finicky beasts decided to die on me completely. I was bemoaning their fate to my buddy American Pie. Am has this giant bushy Clematis adorning the front of his house, that covers it from foundation to eve without even a hint of care.

“Jack, I tell you it blossoms from June to September, bigger and better every year without a drop of care,” he bragged recently, but I suspect it is either a Tea Party conspiracy or perhaps he is sneaking out every night and peeing on it. You know what potent fertilizer those U.S. conservatives can produce. Then he dropped a hint on me that he had a volunteer plant or two, I was welcome to dig up and take to Rainy, no political strings attached.

We turned up at his place with a pot and my favourite transplanting shovel.

“It’s pretty small, but healthy. Be careful and take a good clod of dirt with it,” advised Am pointing out the prize hiding in the shade of another shrub. Am would have dug it out himself but a recent accident rendered him helpless when a Democrat table saw kicked back a plank into his wrist shattering a bone.

I carefully made three cuts around the plant and placed the spade for the critical final thrust. The mosquito, the swat, and the thrust coincided. I neatly severed the main stem right at ground level. A tear ran down Am’s face as I profusely apologized. At least that one won’t winter kill.

“I’ve got one more if you promise to be a little more careful,” sighed Am as he looked dejectedly at the executed specimen. You’d think from his expression he’d lost a dear friend.

The second extraction went much more successfully with an excess of clucking and worrying from Am as I got the orphan potted. We left with more profuse apologies and thank yous and hurried home to place the treasure in its new home.

I promise to pamper and care of it. Maybe if it survives I’ll even be granted another one. Now if only I can keep from getting arrested when I apply its daily dose of fertilizer. Maybe I should wait until after dark.

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