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Report From PIA – February 13

What goes around, comes around, we’re fond of saying. Whether it’s literally true that what we give is returned to us or not, believing in the golden rule, to treat others as we want to be treated, is a wise ethical code.

I wish more gardeners kept this in mind when giving away clumps of aggressive plants. These pass-along-plants are often pass-along-problems, so I understand why fellow garden writer Stephanie Foster says, “Never accept a plant someone else wants to give you.” There’s a reason they have it to give away.

If we gardened by the golden rule, would we want to pass the necessity to control, pull out, or frequently divide a plant on to other gardeners? I think not. Perhaps our generosity has more to do with not being willing to throw plants away than it does a belief that we’re sharing a perennial that’s worthy for every garden.

What goes around comes around was what I thought when friends asked if I could care for their baby for three days in April. Be a faux-grandmother for three days? I’d be thrilled.

This reminded me of the time my first-born was a toddler, and Katharine Houk, who had a child the same age, took my son for two mornings a week so that I could work in the studio. When I told her that I felt badly that she was doing all the childcare, and I wasn’t helping her out, she said, “These things all even out in the end.”

So when I was helping my elderly neighbors with their bills recently, and Mel said, “I hate having to depend on you for all of this, C.L.” I started to reply as Katherine had responded to me. “Oh, Mel,” I said, “I’m happy to help you, and when I’m your age…” but before I could say that I’m sure that someone would do the same for me, Mel chimed in, “I’ll come back!”

I hope to have Mel’s sense of humor when I’m in my nineties, to never pass along a problem plant, and to strive to live by the golden rule.

Is gooseneck loosestrife a pass-along plant or a pass-along problem?

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