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The story of the massive plant in Kilmer library

The Peg Law, a three-pot plant

Staff at the library refer to it as the Peg Law Plant. And it comes with a curious tale.

Peg Law is a Douglass College grad, class of 1945, who worked many, many years in the Rutgers libraries. Before she retired in 1991 she served as the evening supervisor in the circulation department at the Kilmer Library. When she announced her retirement she bequeathed her office plant to Kevin McGuire, the staff person who took over many of her duties. Kevin started watering the plant in the fall semester of 1991 and watered for 21 years now.

As Kevin describes the plant: "It was much smaller then, but not tiny. Over the years we've given it fresh soil regularly and kept putting it in bigger and bigger pots. We still don't know what kind of plant it is, botanically speaking. But it throws out tendrils for roots, and eventually it was throwing out so many tendrils that I got it a "satellite pot," just for its new tendrils. It seemed to like that, and got bigger. Then it started to throw out even more tendrils and I had to get it a second satellite pot. So now it's a 3-pot plant."

Library users interact with the plant, which occupies a large area on the first floor behind the reference desk. A secret admirer donated a separate, smaller plant under its leaves a few years ago. Students leave full water bottles next to it, perhaps as offerings. Someone else left a small religious statue by the main trunk, in the biggest pot, which is still there. Kevin once saw a woman standing UNDER the plant it and looking up at the big leaves over her head!

Over the years Kevin left out various animal figures in the pots, just the fun of it; they usually disappeared after a while. There was a wooden frog, and that is gone. Two wooden elephants did not last too long. The pink flamingo went fast as well. Right now there is a wooden statue of an African cat, on a stool that supports the giant plant as it winds out of the main pot; and there is a dinosaur from a previous exhibit on dinosaur bones.

Kevin announced his retirement in the spring of 2012. To help perpetuate the tradition of the Peg Law plant, he placed a photo of his former colleague on a stool by one of the plant's pots. And he, in turn, bequeathed the plant to Joe Asaro, a fellow staff member of Kilmer Library and avid plant lover. Joe looks forward to caring for this celebrated occupant of the Kilmer Library for many years to come.

Posted August 16, 2012