Almost everyday I go to downtown Newnan, Georgia for my day job. I really enjoy coming to the revitalized downtown area that folks here are so proud of--and for good reason. They do a very good job keeping things running and looking good, even in a slow economy.
One of the things I like best about the downtown area are the plants on every street corner. This year they really hit a home run with their choice of plants that sometimes flow over the planting area and just into the streets.
This year's choices were simple and striking. In the center there is Rudbeckia, also known as black-eyed Susans or cone flowers and all around, sweet potato vines. I love the contrasting colors and the vibrant black-eyed Susans are beautiful. They move in the wind and add a bright spot to each corner that speaks of vibrancy. I am sure it is the underlying message they would like to convey. I don't know if they realize how well the choices give that message. It also speaks of economy because these flowers have withstood quite a long hot summer season and though some of them are dying, they have lasted all summer and are still lovely.
The other day I had a moral dilemma. I was thinking about these flowers and how perfect they would be if I had something similar in my yard next year. I also spotted some flowers that were dried up and dead and I asked some of the people in our front office if they thought I was a bad person if I just dead-headed some of the flowers that were no longer lovely and vibrant. That way I could help the city and myself by cutting off the dead flowers and giving me seeds for planting in the spring.
Her reply was to hand me a pair of scissors.
I laughed, took the scissors and cut off a few of the seed heads to save, put them in a small box and labeled them and I will admit that I feel I had something of value. I also felt a little uncomfortable about it. I would rather have asked someone who planted them for a few seed heads.
I do know that this was the way people used to do things. Rather than go to the store as we do today, people shared their seeds--and their stories about where the plants came from.
I don't know if I was right or wrong to cut off a few dying flower heads but I do know that if I may have some beautiful black-eyed Susans of my own and I will be able to tell my little tale about how beautiful the flowers were in Newnan and how I just couldn't see them going to waste so I just snipped off a few to start my own that will hopefully come back each year.
I don't think I will be snipping of heads of flowers everywhere I go, but I know I will be taking plants and seeds from friends, neighbors and sometimes even strangers. Southern Living calls this practice, "pass-a-long" plants. I think my grandmother who always gave away plants to visitors and neighbors would love that I am doing this with so many of my plants now. I am not sure she would approved of my "Rudbekia theft," but I know she would agree with the economy of the venture.