I took Jayden, my youngest son, on a drive the other morning. He was going stir crazy, and he needed out of the house in the worst way, but it was pouring rain, so I was not much motivated to take him for a walk. We drove quite a way out along the sideroads, and I was just about to head home when I saw a flash of lily orange in the ditch, but at a height far above the wood lilies that are sometimes found along the road, even above the much more common garden-escaped daylilies. I turned around at the nearest opportunity, pulled over next to the patch of orange, and waded in my sandals through a ditch filled with a foot of water and a tangle of bulrushes to discover that what I had seen were Michigan Lilies, almost as tall as I am. I waded back, fetched the shovel and bucket that I generally keep in the back of the car, waded out a second time, dug up several specimens, and hauled everything back to the car. The toddler watched the whole procedure from his carseat with what I assumed to be interest.
A day later, I took him for a walk through the neighbourhood and struck up a conversation with a woman who lives a couple of streets over. She was weeding her garden and had just started to pull out a number of sumacs, one of the low-growing varieties. I asked if she would let me keep a few if I helped her dig them out, and I came home with a half-dozen of them.
The next afternoon, I went to call my kids in from the yard and found two bags of plants on my front walkway, unlabeled and unclaimed. They turned out to be some kind of iris or purple flag, not the native variety I like best, but nice even so.
Then, yesterday, we went for a hike with some friends where I knew I would be able to pick up some common milkweed for my front boulevard, since many of the ones I planted last year were killed off when they were covered by a delivery of mulch. I took my bag and my shovel along on our walk and soon had what I needed.
I love these kinds of plants, the ones that have stories to them, even the simplest of stories. I love the plants that come, not from a nursery, but from uncommon places.