Sep 17, 2009

Horticultural Anarchy, or How I Purloined Free Specimens of Helianthus occidentalis

Pictured are some wildflowers I pass on my trips down Interstate 75 to my office at Bowling Green State University. Over the past few weeks there has been a Siren-like call emanating from the simple beauty of these flowers, and yesterday I packed a hand trowel and some plastic grocery bags to procure some samples of these flowers for my wildflower gardens.

It is true: I am no respecter of the state's rights to monopolize ownership of wildflowers along the roadside. Besides, it is probably a minor miracle that these flowers survived the onslaughts of the maintenance employees and their high-powered riding lawn mowers, which run roughshod over all botanical forms in their mechanical paths.

Of course, that was a halfhearted justification of my surreptitious theft of state property, but I digress.

The flowers in question appear to be Helianthus occidentalis, better known as the Western sunflower. They are native to the United States, and they bloom from July to September in this region. Just as I began digging, I saw a Lake Township police SUV roar past. I cast a wary eye toward the vehicle, but the officer seemed to have more important duties than to investigate what I was doing digging in the dirt 20 yards away from the freeway while my car was parked in the grass off the shoulder.

I remained unmolested by the security forces of state and local governments, and I continued down the road with a half-dozen samples of the flowers to transplant in my backyard. I tell myself that this plant procurement is legal under commons rights dating back to the protections of the commons delineated in the Magna Carta, but I suspect that I would have avoided such high-falutin' arguments had Officer Smiley stopped to say howdy.

Feel free to condemn my brazen theft - or to offer creative ruses that I might use in future roadside botanical acquisition capers in which the police sniff around - in the Comments section.


LTLOP said...

These look like the same ones along the 475 to 75 north overpass. It has always amazed me that they survive in a small crack between the median wall and the pavement.

Middle Aged Woman said...

We call this type of gardening "Those had better be divided or they won't thrive!" Just don't do it in state parks. Although there are some absolutely gorgeous wildflowers in Petoskey State Park. We keep our hands in our pockets.

Petyer said...

Dear Mike - Just ran across your blog & image from 2009. those aren't Helianthus occidentalis in your image. Looks more like Helianthus gigantea from what i can see. - Peter