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It is spring and I’m thinking about what I want to grow. As the plants stream into the garden center, I stop frequently among the perennials, shrubs and trees, thinking, do I want to grow this? Sometimes, under the spell of that potent combination of spring fever and plant lust, the answer is a resounding yes, even if I’m not sure that I have the space or the right soil to grow the plant in question. At other times I’m more thoughtful about my choices.

I go back and forth about whether I should grow plume poppies (Macleaya cordata) in my garden. The foliage and flowers are so beautiful, but it is a bit of a thug. OK…more than a bit, but I do have several large spaces that need filling. I wonder if I’m willing to deadhead the spent flowers so that seeds don’t spread Macleaya all over Poison Ivy Acres; is it worth some additional garden maintenance to grow this perennial? I’m undecided.

Constant questioning about what we want to cultivate is important in life as well. Do I have room for this? Am I able to grow that right now? These are questions we should be asking about work, relationships, and what we do in our communities, churches and families.

I was thinking about this after visiting Mary McComb’s delightful shop, Paper Doll. Mary and I grew up in the same neighborhood during our teens, and she returned to central Wisconsin a few years ago. While I looked at the lovely paper goods she has displayed in her store, Mary explained that when she returned to her home state she thought carefully about what she wanted do. She decided that because she had always loved stationary and cards, she would open a store in addition to teaching at the university. She gave attentive consideration to what she wanted to grow.

Our locations and abilities influence what can be planted. I cannot grow tropical plants outdoors and have them live through the winter, and since I since I can’t carry a tune and have no aptitude for math, it’s unlikely that I could grow a career as a singer or an accountant. I am able to develop my ability to write and speak to diverse audiences, however. I can pay attention to being a good friend, and help to nurture a local non-profit.

It’s possible to work on weeding out those things that I don’t want in my gardens; I don’t care for that abrupt impatience, or the quickness to make a critical remark. Like the weeds in my garden, things that I don’t want growing in my life must be regularly attended to; they won’t disappear without assiduous effort.

Gardeners learn early on that a garden is never finished. We continue to replace plants that have died or been unsatisfactory, and to add varieties we’ve just discovered or always longed for. This year I’m searching for some Heuchera ‘Florist’s Choice’, and more Campanula ‘Bernice’. I’m still on the fence about that plume poppy.

Life is also an ongoing mission of tending to, nurturing, what we do well. We add new experiences or improvements to our daily lives, and deal with the unexpected weeds and weather. In fits and starts, perhaps, we strive to pay attention.

In the springtime, and the rest of the year, I’d like to begin every day by asking again: what do I want to grow?

After seeing that silver-blue <em>Macleaya cordata</em> foliage at Chanticleer (, how could I not want to plant some?

After seeing that silver-blue Macleaya cordata foliage at Chanticleer (, how could I not want to plant some?

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