Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Friends are flowers in the garden of life. ~ Proverb

I really enjoy building and working in flower beds. Creating a colorful palette of living plants around my home thrills me year after year.

Although it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, I don’t even mind weeding.  The ongoing maintenance, “playing in the dirt” as my friend Karen says, is therapeutic for me. It brings a connection with nature, a celebration of flora and fauna, that sitting behind a desk — even if I am writing clever prose — can never produce.

My neighbor, (also named Karen), regularly asks me to water her flowers when she is out-of-town because she knows how much I delight in the task of caring for plants — mine, hers, anyone’s flowers!

A couple of years ago, I looked up from my own flower bed and around at my neighborhood.  You could tell that many neighbors enjoy the growing process — their patios and beds and baskets are overflowing with magnificent colors. But there were several “vacant canvasses” that sadly stared back at me.

Instead of becoming frustrated at “naked beds” or just waving nonchalantly as these neighbors drove by, Greg and I reached out to them on a personal level. Actually listened to their stories.

We learned that one neighbor (although she loves flowers) doesn’t garden because she has a “black thumb.”  Another said that his wife used to take care of the flowers, and since she passed away he didn’t care any more. One young man was too busy, and yet another said she just needed some help and guidance.

Greg and I also began talking with our neighbors who have Miracle -Gro flowing through their veins.  They generously gave starts of their plants and shared their spoils.  They offered advice and support.

We also divided our own ferns, hostas, and day lillies, trumpet plants, little pink flowers and other amazing plants that we can’t identify.  We planted pussy willows and mint, myrtle and vinca. We watered new transplants, pulled weeds, and made friends.

Before we knew it, we had sparked a revolution. Our neighborhood began growing with colorful blooms, interesting plants, generosity, inspiration, and neighborly kindness.

And I couldn’t ignore how this entire process resembles life. Like my own flower garden, which is a mishmash of what I’ve purchased, grown, transplanted, received, and nurtured, my life is a combination of my own gifts and talents combined with the goodness and guidance, wisdom and instructions that others have planted for me.

Why not plant a flower — in a garden or in a life — for someone today?  As George Eliot said, “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done” [Dr. Seuss].

I love working in flower beds. Fellow gardeners understand the excitement of spending the spring cleaning winter debris from the beds; designing this year’s color palette; welcoming the ferns, hostas, daylillies, and other perennials as they make their annual appearance; and preparing the planting containers for their new residents.

It takes a lot of preparation to have a successful garden. Actually, I think there are a lot of parallels between gardening and life. The careful planning, being diligent to guard against weeds and pests that try to destroy, furnishing sufficient amounts of water and proper nutrients, providing support as needed, removing spent blooms to encourage new growth, and pruning dead branches.

All of this attention is vital. However, if plants are not located in the proper spot it really doesn’t matter how much maintenance you are willing to provide; they will be unable to reach their full potential.

Several years ago I purchased a flowering plum at the nursery. I needed a tall plant to fill a blank spot between two windows and this one fit the bill perfectly. I took the plum home, planted it, and gave it my full attention, plenty of water and Miracle Gro. Well, it grew, but slowly, and it never produced the rich full foliage and beautiful pink flowers I had anticipated. Next season, I repeated efforts from prior season — no improvement. Third season was a repeat of season two: attention, water, fertilizer — no improvement.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” [Albert Einstein].

At the end of the third season, I transplanted the plum about 25 feet away, to a bright sunny location. Can you guess what happened? It began growing like crazy. During the fourth season it produced masses of pink flowers, filled out with gorgeous foliage, and became the picture-perfect specimen. At long last it had found the conditions where it could become the plant it was created to be.

I’m sure you have heard the proverb, “Bloom where you are planted.” And I’m sure the folks who made it popular were well-intentioned. They probably were just trying to encourage others who found themselves in less-than-desirable circumstances to stay the course and do their best.

But sometimes you really can’t bloom where you’re planted. It’s not that you don’t have the seeds of greatness in you, it’s more that your circumstances are prohibitive to your reaching your full potential. And, unfortunately, that’s what we call a slump.

I’ve had hostas that were planted too far from the shade. They suffered sun scorch and shriveled leaves. I’ve also had daylillies that refused to produce any flowers and whose leaves were limp and pale because they were in the shade. I could have spent years (refer to plum example above) coaxing these plants to do better, produce more, and reach their potential. But in the end it would never have been enough to make a difference. The plants didn’t have their basic need met — they were in the wrong spot.

Once I transplanted the hostas under the willow and moved the daylillies to the other side of the fence, they immediately began to thrive. Think about this: now that the plants are in the correct location, they require only minimal attention — just basic maintenance.

A friend recently sent me a bonsai bougainvillea. It arrived with specific instructions: “You cannot give me too much sun.” I placed it in the brightest spot I can find — and it’s thriving!

Don’t you wish our lives came with such explicit and easy-to-understand instructions? Sometimes it’s not you — it’s where you are. If you find yourself in a slump, take a look around. Is your environment conducive to you reaching your potential? If not, it’s time to make a change — transplant yourself.

I’ve never met a person, I don’t care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don’t care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life anytime he is prepared and ready to do it.

Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within” [Preston Bradley].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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