(October 27, 2014) As our class stood in Charles Cresson's front yard in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania the anticipation of the gardens on the other side of the fence felt like a tease. However looking back to that afternoon, I think he timed it so the sun would be at its perfect place in the sky when we turned the corner. The man in the hat discussed Camellia's and maintaing a sense of family history while I started eyeing plants that definitely were not the focus of the trip but "it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
At the end of December the boyfriend and I, we'll call him Danny since he loves the Reagan family, went to Vermont for a few days around New Years. We spent the night with some friends just north of NYC and actually had great weather during our drive up to the Okemo area. Obviously I'm referring to great weather to stare at the tree tops for fruit. And by fruit, you know I mean those things that took over my life for the better part of December: pinecones! I never considered that a plant could take over the pinecones' interest but it happened. Enter - the Vermont Mystery Shrub (VTMS).
Fast forward to the second week in January as my mom and I are on our way out of a Wawa near Rt. 202 in Malvern. Thank god my mom felt relaxed that day because you'd think she just ran over a small human or a puppy based on the noise that came from my mouth. I screamed so loud I scared myself. She was driving just fine but sitting to my right was the VTMS right here in Pennsylvania.
Back to the small Vermont roads. I begged Danny to pull over so I could take a picture of the Vermont Mystery Shrub but as he wanted to get to the house for sunset he refused. From the car the most I could make of this plant is that it had some sort of red fruit at the top, height ranged from 5' to maybe 20', other than that I couldn't distinguish any other characteristics that might help describe this plant to anyone - even if they were familiar with all of state's roadside specimens.
On New Year's Day we packed the car to return to PA, a day earlier than planned but it was time. The whole thing where two other families were in the house when we arrived was a little stressful so Danny made the call. We didn't get on the road til a little before dusk but thank the dear Lord - I got a picture of the VTMS. I felt like someone was about to come out of the house with a shotgun but I got a picture. I also got a couple on the side of the highway. Danny reluctantly pulled over for me. Knowing my father would potentially pull off on the side of a busier road (if there was a safe place to do so) to see a rare bird instilled some confidence as I pursued this plant.
I almost broke off a piece of the plant to take home and bring to class for Show N Tell but I didn't know if that was legal and aside from the law something about the plant said don't touch. I couldn't tell if it was prickly but it also seemed like it could be poisonous... I mean that would explain why it's still sitting on the side of the road? Who knows. We drove south with the sun setting and I had my VTMS pictures. Go figure it's right here on the side of 202.
I would love to know what this is. Danny wants to know too.