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Such great delight the day last Spring when I realized that a quail family had decided to take over one of my hanging pots on the rear porch for its nesting purposes! I couldn’t believe it! At first, I presumed that the birds I had caught a quick glimpse of were doves, but then I saw the head of the bird and knew instantly that it was one of the Gambel’s quail which are prominent here where I live. My only issue was in imagining why they had chosen to roost so high off the ground, as I often have trouble reaching the pot and need a step ladder to access it when moving it from the hook on which it hangs. But choose it they did! And then I realized my second conundrum in the quail family’s selection, the life and well-being of the vine which was growing in the hanging pot!  

Now, normally I wouldn’t worry about a hanging pot or the contents when it comes to the excitement of impending baby anything, much less baby quail! Have you seen the little souls? They are incredibly cute and so tiny at first. Who wouldn’t root for them or want their parents to have the best place to roost?! But this particular pot contained a vine which I had gladly added to my collection of unusual plants, one I don’t see very often at the few remaining nurseries here in my city. It originally came from a plant sale at a private garden located about an hour outside of town, so it was already deemed “rare” to me! Of course, the pot which contained this particular vine was the only one suitable for the quail family! Now I had a real dilemma. Should I accept the impending birth by ignoring the health and well-being of my vine, or should I discourage the nesters by watering and fussing over my vine?  

The baby quail won! I decided to let the pot go un-watered as the quail parents rooted around, repeatedly kicking out the potting soil and eventually killing off the vine over the weeks they nested in the pot. I never got to see the quail babies when the time came for them to leave, but I did find broken shells nearby and even some still remaining in the pot. I was a bit heartbroken by the lack of fanfare over the birth, the parents hadn’t even bothered to keep the little family nearby for my benefit! But I also had a pot which once had a thriving and beautifully blooming vine which now sat empty. My heart also felt the loss of such a beautiful and easy-to-care-for plant, as most plant nerds, aka plant enthusiasts/collectors would!  

I tried to console myself with thoughts of the quail prospering somewhere as a family. It worked in part. But I always hoped to locate another sample of that vine and plant it anew! Well, I got my gardening redemption in part when I noticed a few months later several weeds sprouting in odd places nearby the patio on which the empty pot was still hanging. Some of the sprouts were just weeds, plants I didn’t want. But a couple of sprouts actually had the leaf shape and the form of my vine! It was back by the grace of either some other bird or the wind. It doesn’t even matter who or what brought it, it just matters that the vine is living still in my yard. It’s in a place I wouldn’t have probably chosen, but it’s there! The vine which was sacrificed for the comfort of the brooding quail is now living and developing again under the protection of another plant, itself a benevolent consequence of seeds gifted to me by birds carrying them or by the wind blowing them right there!  

 

And so goes the cycle of life in a garden! Nothing is forever, everything is constantly changing, and there is never perfection in the “plots” and plans of the garden or the gardener!  

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