‘Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.’ – Alfred Austin
My first adventure with gardening of sorts involved a decrepit white begonia in a cast iron pot belonging to my mother. Frail and anemic and sporting only one bloom, it languished, (but never died!) in its water logged container. I decided to give it a haircut to see what would happen.
I was very young and my first trim was severe. My mom and I waited anxiously for the plant to recover. But over time it did, and as I began experimenting more and more with the forlorn little specimen, I eventually discovered that by careful pruning I could coax the plant into acquiring a more uniform shape.
I also found that by playing with the plant’s watering schedule, the begonia gradually lost its yellow-green color and developed deep green healthy stems. Finally one day, I was rewarded with a few tentative white blooms.
Gardening has taught me a lot over the years. I’ve learned to anticipate the needs of my plants and to sense when they’re thirsty or feeling poorly. I don’t love weeding, but I know that it is an essential chore to help my plants thrive. I’ve become sensitive to the slightest shift in the sound of the wind rustling through leaves, the particular calls of my neighborhood birds and the stillness that envelops the garden with the approach of a storm.
These things and more, await even the most amateur of gardeners (and we are all gardeners.)
So as a new year begins, I ’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from a life taking care of plants in the garden. These are not resolutions so much as ways of looking at things. (You don’t need to be a gardener to ‘get’ them.) Here goes:
No matter how long the winter, spring always arrives.
Following the particularly rocky year we’ve all experienced in America and abroad, this comes as a reminder that things never stay the same and that life can spring forth from even the darkest of times.
Perennials may look like they’ve died, but they’re only resting beneath the surface.
And not only are they resting, they are gathering strength for the coming spring.
A little TLC can make almost anything look good.
This goes beyond a good haircut. All living things respond well to a little personal attention. And practicing tender love and care benefits the giver, too.
It’s important to periodically clear the weeds.
When weeds become invasive they can have a devastating effect on life’s quality. Taking the time to remove them benefits everyone.
Nursing a sick plant back to health produces a really good feeling.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of bringing a sick plant back to health and being rewarded with new foliage and blooms.
Life springs eternal
Ok, so maybe this sounds a little corny, but all gardeners know that new life is always waiting just below the surface. May 2017 be the year that we all strive to tend our own gardens by pulling the weeds, extending a hand to those who need it and appreciating those cycles of life that are so essential to our well being. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
Buenos Aires’ lovely Jardín Botánico