Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Conversations in my Garden

I was outside in front of the house this week communing with one of the plants that was not behaving as expected. When I purchased that plant I had a specific spot in mind for it. I expected that it would eventually grow to fill up the spot but that would be it. All the info about that plant told me that it would not grow beyond two feet in height and width. That suited me just fine.

Apparently no one told this plant that there were limitations to how big it could grow. Once its roots were established it started to grow, and grow, and grow. This supposed two-foot tall plant is at five feet and still shooting up. It has overgrown the space allotted to it and is spreading into the areas where other plants are growing. It is overshadowing the lower growing plants and blocking the sun from reaching them. It is now in competition with the other plantings, making those plantings decidedly grumpy.

My choices were really simple ones. I could yank the plant out altogether, since it wasn't behaving as expected and I'd never know just what it might do next. I could take out the pruning shears and cut it down to a way smaller size. Of course, I'd have to do that trimming on a constant basis if I wanted to keep the plant under control, and it would continue to push to grow that way it wanted to. Or, I could take that plant and transplant it to another spot in the garden, one where it could grow the way it apparently has been destined to grow, but where it wouldn't cause problems for its neighboring plants, and where they would not cause problems for it.

Try as I might, I couldn't find just the right spot to transplant that plant to. I didn't want to throw it out because it had some really beautiful aspects to it. It might be a pain in the spring and summer, but its fall and winter foliage is a stunning color of red, and even when the leaves fall off there remain beautiful bright red berries that lend welcome color to a dreary winter landscape. So, my only remaining choice was to prune it down to a manageable size in the spot where it is already planted. How well it is going to take to that pruning has yet to be seen. It could be that it will appreciate the "haircut," or it may sit and sulk and refuse to cooperate any longer.

It occurred to me that that plant is a good metaphor for so many other aspects of our lives. Sometimes we find ourselves planted in communities where we don't fit in comfortably. Sometimes we prune ourselves to fit in with the community, but that pruning isn't the most beneficial thing for us and we never thrive the way we were meant to. Sometimes we have to move ourselves to a spot where we will do better. Yes, sometimes there is simply no other place for us available and we have no choice but to accede to the wishes of the gardener and the other plants. And yes, sometimes we look at it as just too much trouble to have to go through the effort to dig ourselves up and replant ourselves some place else, even if that move would be to our benefit.

When the garden gets crowded, when there are too many different types of plants in one space all competing for the same nutrients, when there are too many plants for any of them to grow to their fullest and become the plants they could be, it's time to look at ALL of the options and choose what is best for that plant, even if the decision is difficult. And yes, that should apply to human beings as well. As long as they take their roots with them, most plants can grow in a variety of settings and places.


efrex said...

A very nice and apt metaphor. Of course, with my interests, I associate plants that grow too quickly with an entirely different phenomenon...

Shaindy said...

Could apply the metaphor to the yeshiva system. Some of these schools don't want any plants that aren't all identical. They don't want to prune or adapt the plants that are different, they just want to get rid of them. Some of them take in plants that are all different but prune them to be the same size and to take up the same amount of space so those plants don't grow naturally. You get the idea. For me I like a garden with a lot of variety where each different plant has something to contribute and is beautiful at different times then the other plants. If everything blooms in June and is all the same color what are you going to have in the garden for the rest of the year?

Anonymous said...

If you find yourself talking to your plants it just might be time to get out of the heat and lay down with a nice cool drink. 'Course if they answer you back you might just have a blockbuster novel coming out of that.