Monday, June 21, 2010

Paddles from heaven (or how I ended up with free Opuntia)

I walked by this scene a few times.(any especially eagle eyed dg readers out there may think this scene looks a little familiar, that's because these are the Opunita I blogged about last year, when they were all tied up). Finally a week went by and it was obvious that the owner wasn’t going to pick up this broken Opuntia paddle so I told my husband I was going to. “You can’t…it’s not yours” was his response. Ok. He has a point. It’s not. Just because I can see it’s not being loved doesn’t mean that the owner doesn’t have a higher and better use in mind, and just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. It would be very bad plant karma to just pick it up and take it. Still I wondered and wanted.

Finally I summoned all of my garden courage and walked up to the door.
Ignoring the no soliciting sign (because after all I wasn’t really soliciting) I knocked. And again. And rang the doorbell. And knocked (desire is a strong motivator). Finally the owner came to the door. I held up the broken paddle. “This has been lying in your parking strip for a week or so, and I wonder, if you don’t have anything in mind for it….might I take it?”
(ok I am feeling like a real jerk…)
Her response: “sure, would you like a bag?”
(really…? It was just that easy?)
And then she said… “if you want just break off another one too…they grow so quickly”
So here I am with not one but two (free) Prickly Pear paddles! Just because I asked! Ain’t life grand?
The one that was lying on the ground had already formed a callus on the bottom so I went ahead and stuck it in the ground right away.
Love those spikes!
The other one will wait. I’ve read that if you plant them too soon you risk them rotting at the base.
What would you think if someone knocked on your door and asked such a thing? Have you ever knocked on someones door and asked to take a cutting of a plant?


  1. After my dad's past experience with people just reaching over the fence and pulling his long stem roses off the bush *grrr* I would be THRILLED if someone came to the door and asked permission! (roses have long since been moved beyond arm's reach of the fence!)

    Actually a relative visiting my next door neighbor watched me gardening Saturday and when I got to the corner by their yard she asked for seeds from my Cosmos. It was rather flattering :)

    Congrats on getting your coveted paddle the nice way! :)

  2. Yes I have barged in and begged for a plant! My daughter was mortified but the woman seemed quite thrilled with the idea that some crazy strange gardener would knock on her door begging for a cutting. Cute story and congrats on the paddles. :)

  3. Nice score! We're so cheap we've bought prickly pears for 79 cents a pound at a market in the Mission, and stuck them in the ground. It took awhile, but a couple of them have taken off. Great story :)

  4. Good for you! Bold action can get you a lot. I've knocked for rocks. Big, semi boulderish things that call me after being spotted in a discarded pile for a week or two. I have always been successful :)

  5. AnonymousJune 22, 2010

    What a jewel this woman was. I was with my garden buddy Carol [for support]. Also I had a dollar bill in hand. Offering payment seems to boost my confidence a wee bit. The plant: Rosa mutabilis, hard to find in commerce! Growing right by the street. She refused the dollar. I took five cuttings. One made it and thrives in my garden. Although it's been three years, I still think about dropping off a plant on her doorstep with a note of thanks. Maybe a Heuchera division. I seem to have lots of those. :)

    What would I do if someone came to my door? I'd be flattered. Plants are for sharing.

    Love your prickly pears.

  6. Yay! Good for you!
    I've never straight out begged for a cutting from a stranger's garden, but I have admired a specific plant excessively and been gifted a cuttings or two! Like Grace, I would be nothing but flattered if someone came begging for plants at my door! (Last time a stranger came begging, it was literal begging, for money. Not so pleasant.)

  7. Lovely paddles. Yes, I have asked for cuttings, seeds and offsets all over the Caribbean, and sometimes people even say take the whole plant/group of plants if its an agave! I have also tipped resort gardeners to do some cuttings for me.

  8. Very interesting sequence of events! :)

  9. Mary C, I admit as a young person (can't even say I was in my early 20's) I did pick tulips from peoples yards. A friend and I were very bad influences on each other. It's nice that your neighbors are noticing and appreciating your gardening efforts!

    Kate, your daughter will understand someday...

    Megan, I love your story! That's great. Smart too, I never would have thought of it.

    Laura, "I've knocked for rocks" is either going to be a big rock&roll anthem OR the first line at a new self help group. Either way I love it!

    Grace, great story...and why didn't I even think to take $ with me...that was smart.

    Greensparrow, I tried that compliment route last summer...for a purple sedum. No luck. And it was sedum for god sake! Give it up already! Glad you got yours.

    Nicole, tipped the gardeners! Now that's a nice twist.

    Denise, I thought so too...

  10. My first garden was on a busy corner, where passers-by would often stop to chat or to leave me plants from their own gardens. One guy brought me a whole garbage bag of first "drift". Whenever I divided something, the extras went in a box on the sidewalk with a "help yourself" sign.
    My mom always claimed that plants "snitched" grew better than the legitimate ones, but I like your show of integrity.

  11. Nice - I would be too chicken to ask a stranger, but I've had a neighbor come by and inquire about my very weedy bleeding hearts, and I dug some on the spot and sent her home with a few pots full.
    I've been wanting to throw some Opunita in the neighbor's veggie garden, but I wasn't sure what kind. The other Megan gives me an idea - maybe I buy some at the store, so I know they're edible, and just plant them. It could work, right?

  12. Most gardeners love to share. I've had people ask for cuttings and have also had people ask if I wanted a cutting. A few weeks ago I was taking an early morning walk on trash day. Sticking out of a trash can were some cactus (think they are new prickly pear growths) pieces. They are now happy in their new home...much better than them being at the landfill.

  13. AnonymousMay 27, 2013

    As a cacti grower, I would be kind of upset if someone walked up and took a pad off my property. Downed pads I often send to people I know through the net for free. I know it might seem like we aren't carrying for the downed pad, but after a week? well I never let them sit that long. Just keep that in mind.

  14. I know this is an old post. I don't knock on people's doors. However, I've walked past houses multiple times until the owner happened to be outside, admired their plant, and asked where the owner bought it. This has resulted in a cactus pad (and the all-important plastic bag to carry it in!) I offered to pay for it but the owner gave it to me. The next time I saw the owner outside, I thanked him and gave a progress report, and was offered a pad or two. The reason I don't knock on doors is because I wouldn't want some stranger to knock on my door and interrupt whatever I'm doing to ask for a freebie. If someone knocked on my door the answer would be no, whereas if someone did what I do, it would be a yes.


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