Maintaining a garden was no easy task, least of all for someone with Marie’s fastidiousness. Any intruder, any interloper, any seed or spore that was there without her express permission was to be sought out and eradicated. Crouching in the finely-parted earth with calipers in one hand and gardener’s shears in the other was in many ways the perfect outlet for her obsessive compulsion.

“Oh no you don’t,” she muttered, examining a newly-sprouted maple sapling that had sprung up over the long holiday weekend. “Don’t even think about unfolding your usurping petioles in my garden.”

Normally a pacifist who made annual payroll-delectable contributions to PETA, Marie was vicious to garden intruders. She tore up the sapling by its roots, snapped its fragile stem in half, and threw it on a pile to be incinerated as yard waste.


“It’s just a plant with heart-shaped seeds,” Clyton said. “Nothing to get excited over.”

“Clyton, since when do I tell you how to pilot your boat?” Ash said. “I know my herbs and my history. Heart-shaped seeds, structure similar to asafetida and fennels, resin with a rich odor…no living plant has those properties.”

“Congrats, then,” Clyton said. “New species. Give you twenty bucks to name it after me.”

“No!” cried Ash. “This isn’t a time to be funny, Clyton; it’s a time to be awed. It’s not a new species. It can only be silphium, the miracle plant known to the Greeks and Romans…and it’s been extinct for 2500 years.”