Without care, one’s hopes, dreams may die on vine
They call this the information age. We can find out almost anything we want in seconds with all the new technology available. It can seem a bit overwhelming with all the ideas, facts and figures being hurled at us from every direction. Sometimes in a desperate attempt at self preservation, I’m afraid I just tune it all out and go on my way.
I caught myself doing this denial act in my role as a gardener several years ago. It was about this season, and the stores were full of bright, beautiful new plants waiting to be taken to someone’s home for the warm months.
What to choose? What to choose?
As I left the store with a small selection of prime seedlings, I noticed a rack by the door with a sign posted above it that read: ‘Reduced for Quick Sale.’
Now in college I studied to be a social worker, and I’m afraid the ‘fix-it-up’ syndrome is in me to the core. I’m always stimulated by the challenge to make something function well again,
On the rack were these sticky stubbed plants bundled in plastic sleeves. They looked a bit decrepit, but on the plastic bag of each was a picture of the most amazing purple rose. Mmm, I thought. Given a dose of tender loving care mixed with my skills as a gardener, I speculated that I could make this droopy prickly sprout become the marvelous purple flower that was advertised.
Since the price was very reduced and the challenge very enticing, I not only bought one but bought three of these potential show stoppers. As I acknowledged that the plants offered some challenges, I searched the store for a product that would boost their prospects. What luck! I spotted a little gadget I had never tried before. It was just a small plastic container that attached to the end of the watering hose. All the user was expected to do was put some fertilizer in the container, screw it to the hose and turn on the water. What a modern marvel. I could use it on everything ‘ grass, plants, shrubs ‘ just everything at once, and I was in a hurry for results.
After planting my purple rose bushes, I squirted them with my new one-size-fits all fertilizer gadget and went about my other businesses while it did its wonders. About a month later, the Japanese beetles swarmed into my garden and began to inch toward my tender roses. I was getting tired of picking these pests off plants one at a time and so recalling a powder at the garden store that guaranteed it would drive them off, I purchased some post haste. I failed to read the instructions that stated the remedy contained a high percentage of nitrogen fertilizer.
About July my purple rose bushes still looked weak and yellow, and I reasoned another shot of the all-purpose fertilizer was in order. During the months of August and September those thorny limbs started climbing to the sky. When it was time to put the garden to bed for the winter, I had the tallest greenest rose bushes ever, but I still hadn’t seen the beautiful purple that had adorned the plastic bag that held the plant in the store. Cutting off the dead growth of the other plants in the garden proved to be treacherous. I was being clawed and scratched by those huge gangly rose stems. I realized that in my haste to pull the plants out of the doldrums, I hadn’t paid any attention to the nutrient content of the fertilizer, and these giant stems were the result of too much nitrogen. It just irritated me so that I cut them all down and called it quits for the season.
The next spring, in a conversation with a fellow gardener friend, I was grumping about the unfortunate turn of events and told of my subsequent pruning trick.
‘Oh my,’ said my friend. ‘Don’t you know that was a climbing rose, and that they bloom on the second year’s growth?’
I had never taken the time to find out what this variety of rose, that was unfamiliar to me, needed. I just assumed that I was experienced in gardening and could handle the case. As a result I got all scratched up and I never saw a purple flower.
Sometimes I’m afraid I treat people and situations just like I did those rose bushes. I just plow in and without paying attention to the uniqueness of the person or place, I say or do something that is counterproductive. I don’t take the time to get informed in order to really understand. When we do that, we all miss the real fruits that could have enriched our lives.
We acknowledge that we live in a ‘global living room.’ This is a complex and diverse ever-changing world, and we don’t understand everyone in the living room with us. We don’t even understand everyone sitting on the couch with us.
We need to read the directions, study the issues and discuss with others before we act. I hope I remember this next time I’m in a committee meeting.