What’s this? It’s a garden on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon where lush squash, tomatoes and peppers are growing behind these pads of cactus. Huge cedars and healthy Japanese maples partly shade the garden. I find the scene hilarious because it reminds me of a way in which we gardeners are all the same. We can’t help but try to grow plants that don’t belong.

This cactus would be at home on some of the south-facing hills near my home in Southern California (where such prickly pear cactus is native), but it must feel out of place in the Willamette Valley in January when it’s 40 degrees and 30 inches of rain has already fallen that winter.

I can’t stick to what grows easily in my particular climate either. I’ve got blueberries, for example. They hate our intense sun, our alkaline water, and of course our lack of rainfall. I can’t help but try to grow them, however. We’re all the same.

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