Dead Bodies

January 13, 2011

Yesterday, I was trying to get somewhere in Orland Park using LaGrange Road and, as sometimes happens on that stretch, I found myself with an enormous semi truck bearing down on the lane I wanted to move into, so I was forced to miss my turn. As soon as I was north of Southwest Highway, I was able to make a right into Pebble Creek Nursery – or I should say, the former Pebble Creek Nursery.

This is an unfortunate example of location making a business fail, as I have passed it hundreds of time while it was open, but because of traffic patterns and turning restrictions, was never able to make a visit. If I felt that way, how many hundreds – or even thousands – of other gardeners felt the same?

I always pictured this owned by (for some reason) brothers, rangy and dark-haired, knowledgeable and kind-hearted. They always dressed in flannel shirts, even in the heat of summer (apparently it’s possible to romanticize a yellow sign). I always felt that they would be friendly and willing to help solve problems with wilted leaves, dying blooms and unproductive vegetables.

This was the very first time I had ever turned in and as soon as I did, I realized I might have gone from the frying pan (semi behind me) to the fire (unplowed parking lot full of slippery, sticky snow). The road starts high, dips low and then ends high again, dumping you onto Southwest Highway. I made it down just fine and then negotiated the upward slope to the exit. When I got to the top, I paused and looked back at the nursery.

That’s when I saw them – rows and rows of corpses and my fantasy of salt-of-earth brothers vanished with a poof. Stacked on shelving were brown, pokey dry and dead plants in their cracking pots, covered in snow, nestled in snow, like a twisted version of a spring sale. Rows of leaves ready to be crushed into powder, rows of frozen soil, lines of crackling branches – neglected and discarded living things.

Now, really, why? I understand the business was closing, I understand this was a tragedy for the owners. I understand that these were probably overlooked in the last clearance sales. But why? Why just leave them here to dry, to rot, to die? Why not give them to a school, or the Crisis Center, or the Cancer Center? A hospital? A nursing home? There was nowhere where these could have ended up, been planted, been tended?

I know they’re just plants and I know my angst goes a little far. But it’s the waste that kills me – like every time I thin catmint or hostas or chives or daylilies. I don’t want to pitch them, I want someone to plant them. I will check back there in a month or so – there is still heavy equipment. I’m thinking that even though they are unsaveable, they would be great for my compost bin.

I wonder how much dead plants go retail nowadays.

 

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