An ambitious crop of pepper, tomato and tomatillo seedlings have taken over all available space on my bedroom dresser. Seed casings shed and first leaves unfurled, the tiny plants reach eagerly for the window’s light. Their chartreuse tips quiver with photosynthesized life and the promise of summer’s bounty; tangy, spicy, sweet.
Gardening has always been a passion which nearly consumes every spare moment of my spring and summer. I have long been aware that the majority of the plants I cultivate are native to distant, milder climes. However, it was not until I began my research for The Trespasser’s Garden that I realized the culprits behind the spread of so many invasive plants were well-meaning gardeners like myself.
The list of invasives that escaped immigrant gardens is long – yellow iris, ox-eye daisy, multiflora rose, common tansy, garlic mustard and Grecian foxglove to name just a few. As I create new works exploring these once invited guests turned aggressive interlopers, I cannot help but think of those fragile seedlings growing on my dresser top. Of course peppers and tomatoes pose no real ecological threat, killed readily as they are by the first light frost. Still they are a symbol of the world made smaller where jalapenos can be had at any grocery store in any season and gardeners yearn to grow the newest, prettiest hybrid flowers. Yet while oceans, mountains, and climate cannot stop our desire for sweetness and beauty, perhaps an educated conscience can.