Online Plea Spurs Gardeners To Aid Texas Woman In East Texas, a divorced mother can't pay the higher rent her landlord wants, so she's moving out. Scores of gardeners from across the state are helping her move her lush garden of shrubs, trees and beloved day lilies to her new home, one plant at a time.
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Online Plea Spurs Gardeners To Aid Texas Woman

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Online Plea Spurs Gardeners To Aid Texas Woman

Online Plea Spurs Gardeners To Aid Texas Woman

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If you poke around the discussion forums on the Web site Dave's Garden, you'll find posts about rejuvenating cane begonias or trading morning glory seeds. So a message like Tracy Pruitt's in the Daylily Forum would stick out.


This is not going to be an uplifting post, it began. I am incredibly sad. My children are devastated, and there is nothing I can do about it. I haven't stopped crying since yesterday, and things seem pretty hopeless right now.

SIEGEL: Tracy Pruitt was being kicked out of her rental house after spending years planting hundreds of lilies in the yard. As NPR's Wade Goodwyn tells us, her online post led to an outpouring of support from fellow Texas gardeners.

WADE GOODWYN: Tracy Pruitt agrees that in hindsight, planting hundreds of day lilies at her rental house sounds a little perilous. But after she and her husband of 13 years divorced, Pruitt decided to take up a hobby when she and her children moved into a new house and a new life in Lufkin, Texas.

Ms. TRACY PRUITT (Insurance Agent): So I got into gardening, and I don't do anything just part way. I went nuts and started gardening tons of stuff. And so, yes. People were, like, why are you doing all this to a rental house? But honestly, I expected to be for a very long time.

GOODWYN: It was a happy two-and-half years for the insurance agent and her young daughter and toddler son. But then, out of the blue last month, the property manager dropped by with very bad news.

Ms. T. PRUITT: When she came and told me that we had 30 days to get out - and, of course, I begged her. I'm like, you know, please. Let us stay. We'll do whatever, you know, we'll pay the increase, whatever. She said no. And I just - I was probably at the lowest point I'd been since the divorce, honestly.

Ms. VICTORIA PRUITT: When she heard the news, she was very upset. She was pretty hard on herself. But I just had to keep talking to her about how God has a plan for us and everything. We got through the news pretty much together.

GOODWYN: At 10, Victoria Pruitt is mature for her age. She suffered through her parent's divorce and came out okay. Losing the house is another blow, but the girl seems determined.

Ms. V. PRUITT: I was a little bit upset. I mean, this is our home, but I just know that we're going to find something probably even better.

GOODWYN: The night she was told they'd have to move out, Pruitt posted the news on the Daylily Forum at Pruitt wrote: My daughter asked me, what about your day lilies, mommy? I am planning on moving the raised beds and taking as many plants as possible. Of course, it really is one of the worst times to be doing this due to the extreme heat. Tracy, a graduate of Texas A&M, goes by the moniker Aggie Girl on Dave's Garden, and Aggie Girl was about to find out what certain presidential campaigns have known for some time: The Internet can be a powerful organizing tool.

(Soundbite of scraping)

Mr. STEVE SMOCK(ph): A friend of mine said that somebody was getting ready to move and needed some help, and didn't have nothing to do on the day, so I just hopped in the truck and run off. It's just a neighbor helping a neighbor.

GOODWYN: When retired toolmaker Steve Smock says he hopped in the truck Saturday and came right up, he means from more than four hours away, from the other side of Houston. And Smock is not here by himself.

Ms. BECKY BORHAM(ph): Aggie Girl, she's just a crazy nut.

GOODWYN: Becky Borham is a housewife from Colmesneil, about 45 miles south Lufkin. What happened was this: Tracy Pruitt's post generated more than 90 replies, and the Texans among them began using the forum to organize themselves into the gardening cavalry.

Ms. BORHAM: All right. Let me do this, and then I'll help you. Okay?

Ms. PRUITT: Okay.

GOODWYN: In the cul-de-sac in front of the house, pickup trucks with flatbed trailers have backed up to the yard. It's in the upper 90s, but the flatbeds are being filled with hundreds of grocery bags with day lilies sticking out of the top. Around the perimeter of the house, half a dozen people dig, another team bags and a third carries to the trailer. It goes surprisingly fast.

The Pruitts are moving in with her parents. Tracy and her father have built massive raised beds of dirt on his property, ready to welcome the transplants. The day lilies are just the backbone of the operation.

Ms. T. PRUITT: Elephant ears, Asiatic lilies, Hardy Amaryllis, Hardy Verbena, Claviums, Tannas(ph), Mexican Petunias...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. T. PRUITT: The list goes on.

GOODWYN: The Texas community at Dave's Garden is riding to Tracy Pruitt's rescue, transforming a sad situation into a much less sad situation.

Ms. T. PRUITT: You know, I was talking to my best friend, and she was saying, you know, just pray for a miracle. And then when I told her what was happening on Dave's, she said there's your miracle.

GOODWYN: The miracle on Brookwood Place will wrap up this Saturday when the second wave of gardeners hits the Pruitt family beach head. It has to be wrapped up, 10-year-old Victoria says. They're out as of July 31st.

Ms. V. PRUITT: I just think it's very sweet that all these people have come down to help us, and they don't - I mean, they haven't even seen us before.

GOODWYN: Victoria says, in times of trouble, it's good to know some Texas gardeners, even if you did only meet them on the Internet. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News.

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