While on vacation, my young daughter couldn’t resist the chance to pet a furry lamb’s ear. A lamb’s ear of the perennial variety, that is. The surface of the leaves, shaped lambs’ ears, feels like wool and can almost pass for the real deal except for the grey-green coloring. On the morning we were scheduled to head home, our friend pulled up a clump of weakly rooted lambs’ ears and I gladly extended my hand. I carefully wrapped the stems in a damp towel and hoped that the souvenir would survive the journey.
Within one hour of arriving home, I dug a hole in the sandy soil, and placed the cluster in our front yard. Over the past few years, prolific plant has survived frigid winters and triple digit summers and unfailingly produces purplish flowers. After such a successful transplant, I was hooked!
Fortunately, the folks in my neighborhood are in the habit of sharing seedlings, shoots, and surface runners. Crimson hollyhocks, golden raspberries, Russian sage, and lavender unify our landscapes and cast just the right amount of color on our desert terrain.
One neighbor down the road gave me a generous pot of chamomile flowers. They look like miniature daisies. The flowers sat on our back porch and a sweet smell entered our house through the screen door when the breeze was just right. My daughter freely picked the blossoms by the handfuls to make tea. Chamomile flowers steeped in a pan of hot water for just a few minutes makes the most refreshing drink that can be served hot or cold. We often add fresh mint and a hint of honey to the tea.
At the end of the summer I realized that I did not make even one plant purchase at the local nursery. I was far too occupied finding the perfect plant to pass along, and too busy figuring out where to place the plants that my neighbors shared with me. And I enjoyed getting to know both my neighbors and plants a bit better.