Faith in seeds

One of my favorite short stories is “The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jean Giono. A wonderful half hour film was created around this story through the use of masterful and inspiring watercolor animation. It takes place in France and is about a solitary man, Elzeard Bouffier, who slowly and quietly reforests the mountains and valleys where he lives. On land devastated by clear-cutting, charcoal industry, war, and ignorance, Bouffier planted thousands of acorns, as well as seeds and saplings of other trees. He continued planting right on through the two world wars until his death as a very old man. He also raised bees, and watched as springs and streams came back to the arid land, nourishing flower seeds just waiting for water to flow again. He created life, which brought people and their families back to the abandoned villages.

Monsieur Bouffier, though a fictional character, is symbolic of the many heroic activities by people throughout the world, serving to counteract, and hopefully, maintain ecological balance in a world where consumerism and human activities are taking a major toll. Reforestation efforts in Central America by the wonderful New Forest Project are bringing back the rainforests in El Salvador and other war-torn countries. Here in the USA, cities and towns are being encouraged to become Tree Cities; our town of Thurmont is passing qualifications to be one of those cities with on going tree plantings.

Personally, I have faith in seeds as an important component in our efforts to take care of our planet. I am a seed saver of old variety and heirloom vegetable seeds, as well as flower seeds of all sorts, especially ones on the wild side, otherwise known as Natives. According to the Native Gardeners Companion catalogue, which offers customers nearly 700 native species, “native plants co-evolved with native insects and wildlife, and are deeply dependent on one another, creating healthy eco-systems.” Much like Elzeard Bousier, we, too, can do something special on our individual properties, whether with seeds or transplanting bare-rooted or potted native plants. Working together, we all can create vitally important habitat for wildlife with healthy eco-systems.

However, nothing can beat Mother Nature when it comes to saving seeds. She is the ultimate seed-saver. Perhaps you have heard the remarkable story of some lupine seeds which were found in the frozen arctic soil. Even though these seeds were shown by radio-carbon dating to be 10,000 years old, some of them still grew when planted in 20th century soil!

Reading up about lupine flowers, which are in the legume family, I learned that they are the host plant, as well as clovers (also in the legume family), for the life cycles of various blue butterflies. So, I began planting blue lupine seeds and I let my clovers grow in patches. Over the last several years, I have seen many tiny Pygmy Blues and one illusive Eastern Tailed Blue, so I know they have found my property! Such are the rewards of one lone naturalist.

When I first read the story of Elzeard Bouffier I thought he was an actual person. Of course I was disappointed to learn his was a fictional story, but to make it real is now my challenge, and everyone's challenge. All we have to do is care enough to do something. As I always say, every little bit helps, but if you can do more, that's wonderful.

So, be inspired this spring, and have faith in the seeds!

Nature Note for 5/14/2017

Article by Christine Maccabee, Master Naturalist