Transplants

On a panorama hike from Waldegg, Beatenberg to Niederhorn.

Recently, I spent four days grubbing under our cinquefoils. The sun burned my south-facing shoulder, and the dust I raised gave me gunky eyes and a scratchy cough (pandemic lockdown’s not the best time for scratchy coughs). I uncovered a swath of oregano, which I decided to leave. In other areas of the garden, I ignore the wild garlic mustard and encourage the spreading of wild strawberries.

Back in April, after harvesting ramsons that grow in the woods along the Rhine, I promised myself to dig up some bulbs come fall to replant along the north side of our house. First, I’ll have a vigorous go at the ivy, dandelions, and weeds choking the slope, which will take another few days of grubbing—but shaded, at least.

Transplanted ramsons should take to the spot. I’ve been lucky with transplants, so far; agreeable bulbs, ferns, and forget-me-nots. Calendulas and lavender never crop up where I prefer them to spread. Ah, the lavender propagating heartily—they’re my own fault. Ever since I noticed how happily birds feed on their seeds, I don’t cut them back until spring. The birds don’t get everything, of course.

My sister-in-law’s strawberries and periwinkle.

My sister-in-law and her family live next door. Her beds of periwinkle are full of wild strawberries she lets me garner. From the handfuls I freeze daily (until I reach a kilo), I make jam, some pots pure and some mixed fifty-fifty with juicier field berries we buy at a roadside booth. Last year, I collected her plants’ runners, stealing them across our property line. The transplants are loving our east-side bed of rhodies and azaleas. Like me, they favor first light.

Let’s be grateful for satisfied transplants. This June, it’s thirty years since I arrived in Switzerland. I’ve tapped into a very good family and graceful life that’s a privilege. My runners and I thrive.

My sister-in-law’s transplanted runners.

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