Compost heap

New Species

            If only, Morton had thought many times.  He might be somewhere close to one of the gardens he liked to visit.  His theory:  in some zone near a complex, richly diverse botanical garden, plants, or some part of their genetic code, might wander, escape, might morph into a new species.  And he would find that unique plant, maybe find his name in some Latinate form, forever planted in the history and future of botany.
            How many times Morton had heard the injunctions of gardeners and garden officials:  “Keep to the path,” or “Use the gate.”  How often he’d looked over his shoulder, seen no one, and sidled through a thick hedge line into the compost heap, the sand piles, the raw unkempt earth that was hidden near every formal garden.
            Which is where he found himself one overcast day, staring down at, then kneeling beside, what looked like a lacy cactus, a gossamer artichoke, a diaphanous spike of leaf that held what looked like a bright red button—such a bud—at its base.  He’d never seen anything like it before. His dream, his mission, had borne fruit.  He called out. 
            When no one came, he rose to his feet and, backing away, his eyes never leaving his discovery, he slipped back through the hedge.  Where was staff when he wanted to be caught off the path, wanted attendants rushing toward him to be certain he was not molesting the plants?  “Help!”  he called again.  “Could I have some help?”  And then rushed back through the hedge.
            An old man, in overalls, boots muddy, ambled up a path between the garden sheds.  “Was it you calling out?” asked the man.
            At the same time, from the hedge line, another man emerged, uniformed, a small book in his hand, a club hanging at his side.  “What’s the excitement?” he asked.
            Morton turned to him.  “Over there,” he said.  He turned just in time to see the old man bend to the plant—Morton’s plant, Morton’s discovery—and pluck it from the ground.
            “My good sir,” said the security officer who had just squeezed his way through the hedges.  “You are to stay in the boundaries of the garden.”
            “But . . .” Morton pointed at the disturbed earth.  The old man had pocketed the plant and was already on his way toward the sheds.  “Stop,” called Morton.
            “Sir, I must ask you to come with me.”  The guard held up his book as though anticipating the recording of an infraction.
            “That plant,” said Morton.
            “A weed,” said the suited man.  “Old Thomas knows his work, he does.”  And Morton followed the officer through the hedges, and out the garden gate. 
            He drove home.  If only, he thought.






Compost heap

Asparagus stalk

Cross hatch garden

Datura blossom

Thistle flower

Garden shears

Dandelion seed head

Cracked earth



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