She opens her hands and says, "Take more than you need. Pass them along. Spread these plants around."
And passers-by on the neighborhood sidewalk stop to contemplate the periwinkle and sweet woodruff and garlic chives loosely pressed into the soil in a cardboard box. They hesitate at first, not wanting to seem greedy, but the gardener insists. Her straw hat shades her eyes, so it's hard to see exactly what her motivation is. Maybe she's motive-less. She wants to get rid of all those weedings, but she can't bear to throw them on the compost heap.
The periwinkle, left on its own, will devour the entire garden, sending out stems that then sink tough, grasping roots wherever they land. Other plant varieties fear the periwinkle. Starting as a single little plant in a bare spot, it spreads down the slope, eating up the space once occupied by the perennial yellow alyssum—which has totally disappeared.
Oh, don't get the gardener started on the rapacious periwinkle! Even its flowers take part in the assault. The periwinkle comes into bloom just as the gardener has steeled herself to the job of ripping it out and reducing it back to its originally planned size. But who can be so heartless as to dig up a flowering plant? Who can consign those pretty blue flowers (she remembers her periwinkle blue cashmere sweater in grade 11) to the compost heap? So because of the flowers she procrastinates, and by the time the flowers have died away the periwinkle's new season is well entrenched, those grasping roots digging into new territory claiming, "Mine, mine, all mine!"
The garlic chives have a totally different strategy. She bought one clump of garlic chives years ago and was pleased to see the pretty white blossoms at the tips of the strong flower-stalks. Each blossom was made up of numerous flowers—somewhat like the botany of the dandelion—and when it was time, the blossom exploded, sending seeds to every part of her garden. She didn't know this, of course, that first year. No one had told her what to expect. But the following spring she found garlic chives everyplace. Still, that year she welcomed the blossoms again: "Oh, how pretty! Any flower is welcome in my garden." But that was the last year for THAT sort of indulgence.
War was declared. This gardener, so loath to do her weeding that she allows the vinca to battle with the other ground covers until a winner declares itself—this gardener set out to control her garlic chives. First, she uprooted most of the garlic chive plants (or so she thought) and ate the pungent stems. Then she attacked the blossoms of the remaining clumps. Whenever a flower stalk appeared, its bulbous tip hinting at its pregnancy, she pulled off the soon-to-flower tip and threw it away. Dozens of times a day, passing this part or that of her little rock garden, she snatched at those flower stalks, removing a dozen a day.
But, like the periwinkle, the garlic chives are still not under control, so every year she offers the superfluous plants to her neighbours: "Take more than you need. Please! I implore you to take more than you need."