Sometimes I think about quitting social media, but here’s a good reason to stay: Daylily brokering.
Just the other day, an acquaintance from grad school posted that she was digging up some of these pollen-flecked greeters of the morning. Did anyone want some?
I would, but I have no yard. However, some friends of mine recently bought a house; they have a good bit of yard, front and back, plus the recommended six or more hours of sunlight that the lilies need. A few weeks ago I spent a happy afternoon helping them weed the rock-studded sloping garden bed in their front yard, a bed they are slowly and methodically filling in with flowering and green plants. Did they want some? Yes! Not too many, though.
I was in the lily benefactress’s neighborhood for a writing workshop. She left specific directions for where to find the flowers she’d dug up (on the left, behind the yew). I swung by and took two of the three cardboard boxes she’d set out, and delivered them that evening.
When I arrived at my friends’ house, they gave me a tour of their new vegetable garden, a great use of space in the two-foot-wide dirt strip between their backyard walkway and fence. Many basil plants, many more tomato plants, and lettuces. We pondered what could have eaten a single basil plant down to its stems.
The lily relinquisher had still had a box left, unclaimed. I thought of another friend in the next neighborhood, but up the same street. (We met at a writing conference in Michigan, in a restaurant booth with one old friend and three strangers from Pittsburgh, friendships seeded before I knew I’d be moving back here.) Would her family want that last box? Yes, but they were traveling, and stayed an extra day to visit an ailing elder.
I could’ve fetched them myself, but I’m across town. Maybe their next-door neighbors, who adventured with me in a Play and Exploration Cohort last year, could rescue them? They could.
On Memorial Day, two days after the first delivery, the young urban homesteaders sent me photos of the lilies they’d planted in that bed I’d helped them weed. There were ten or so lilies left over, languishing. Would I mind if they offered them up on social media?
No. But I worried about the lilies (and even looked up “Can you grow daylilies indoors?” Not very well). So I emailed the friend who’d invited me over for their holiday cookout. We got to know each other when I took a personal finances workshop at which she and her husband were debt-conquering experts. Would she want them if they were still available? Sure!
Late that afternoon, I drove by to collect the remaining lilies and their accompanying dirt, trying not to transport the ants that had gathered under their moist cardboard box. At the cookout, I handed them over and cautioned, “There might be some ants.” The hostess was unfazed: “I like ants!”
After four hours of ten people visiting, feasting, storytelling, laughing hard, it was time to go. As we walked through her simple, colorful, lovingly-tended yard, she showed me a bare space between hostas along her white picket fence, where they would plant the lilies in the remaining daylight.
I don’t have any earth besides a few windowsill pots. But I’d managed to ferry a surplus of my favorite large flower from one of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods to three others. Meanwhile, the daylilies in front of my building are sending up their slender scapes, full of buds soon to bloom — usually around June 6, the anniversary of the day I planted myself here. And with a growing network of friends with gardens, I’m looking forward to a summer of nurturing that growth, offering weeding help, and reaping — along with some tomatoes — the benefits of putting my hands into soil and my life into this place.