It takes a long time to go from one small, waifish seed to this twenty-stemmed beauty.
It takes nearly as long (but not quite) to start a nursery:
a spring, summer, and fall to scout for plant populations, contact landowners, acquire permission to collect-- and then actually collect seed;
evenings spent researching seed cleaning processes, storage requirements, and germination requirements;
two springs to try germinating very special and treasured seeds;
moments of failure;
more moments of joy and success;
hours spent record-keeping when I could have been scouting for plants;
hot afternoons transplanting tiny (and sometimes overgrown) seedlings into tubes;
a couple years to grow forbs, grasses, sedges, vines, shrubs, mystery plants;
four or five months (spread over two years) to plant those 30,000+ plugs;
another spring to grow stock for sale;
mega hours to understand state and federal paperwork;
3 hours to have your partner understand, fill out, and file that paperwork;
*countless* hours of weeding by hand, hoe, hula hoe, colinear hoe, machete, hand sickle, fancy copper tools, unnamed pieces of rusty metal, propane torch, the PyroWeeder, and sheer force of will;
a few days of “weeding sickness” because it’s too damn hot and humid outside to even try;
a few hours disgusting your partner with your bubbly sunburn;
too much time building a social media presence;
10-15 hours explaining to nearly everyone why I intentionally plant thistles;
an hour buying better boots;
and many, many stunning seasons with my family in the relict mixed- and tall-grass prairies of southeast Nebraska.
+ 10 years of dreaming on the front end.
Even so, Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed) takes much longer to reach maturity in this highly competitive native environment. Everything worth being and doing takes time, right?