What does Hope look like?

My fingernails are eternally filthy, my to-do list is never-ending, but the view from my office is very pleasant right now. The sun-lovers in the nursery are within view. But the Red Alder (Alnus rubra) casts a nice dappled shade. In the foreground, deep green multi-fingered leaves and yellow flowers of the vigorous groundcover, Pacific Silverweed (Argentina egedii), sit next to the small pots of baby Big-leaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus). Now just 5 inches tall, they aspire to purple-and-white-flowered glory ten times that height. Beside the Lupines grow Subalpine Spirea (Spiraea splendens), ready to go. Even though they are small, some of the plants are sporting fuzzy pink blooms.

Beyond that, the fine curving blades of the bunchgrass Roemer’s Fescue (Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemerii) look like flowing water, contrasting with the hearty foliage of Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana), a thicket-forming wild and fragrant magenta rose. The Common California Asters (Aster chilensis) are tall and vigorous, and hold the promise of lavender and yellow blooms in the fall.

Beyond the sun-lovers, the greenhouse, attractively (if I do say so myself) covered in shade-cloth, protects newly-potted or shade-loving plants. There is a never-ending supply of plants to be potted up or otherwise propagated. We have high hopes for them.

The nursery is a place of hope. We get to work together with the earth, growing plants that help the earth recover from humanity’s ravages. Sometimes being a native plant grower just feels like a lot of work. Most of the time it IS a lot of work. But, when I step back and enable myself to envision a wider view, I can see that it is more than work; it is a Work.

So the view from my office is not just of the physical manifestations of my mental to-do list, nor even just of nice plants ready to be sold–but the view of a Work. To recast the popular phrase, this is what hope looks like. Seedlings ready to be planted out, dirty fingernails.

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