If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s you can’t be a gardener without being optimistic. A gardener purchases seeds with the hope that sunny days—plus rain—will transform the seeds into the flowers or vegetables depicted on seed packages. Or, we expect the same from seeds collected from last summer’s favourite blooms.
One year, I collected seeds from a gorgeous zinnia plant.
I planted the seeds everywhere the following spring. Unfortunately, the seeds were from a hybrid plant. What popped up from the soil EVERYWHERE were plants that resembled weeds.
It’s a couple of years later, and I still see the results of that failed experiment! But, gardeners learn along the way and continue to be hopeful.
Another quality gardeners possess is compulsiveness. A gardener with a full garden cannot visit a nursery without buying a new plant. They’re optimistic they’ll find space for it. They’ll make a spot even if it means expanding the garden.
My husband, Guy and I were at Home Depot recently to buy garden edging bricks. I became distracted even before we entered the store. Outside in the garden centre were citrus plants. Guy insisted I buy a lemon tree. And, then he thought two would be better. You can see why I love the man!
After we placed our order for the bricks and purchased the two lemon trees, we realized there was a bit of a problem. We had driven there in our sports car not our SUV. Being an optimistic gardener, I could see they would fit just fine.
Guy just couldn’t use the rear view mirror!
You’d think I’d remember that dilemma but the very next week, I did it again! At the grocery store was displayed a shipment of palm trees. Forget the temptation of chocolate bars near the check-out. I needed a palm tree. In my mind, I visualized it looking pretty at the top of the drive-way. I hadn’t given much thought how it would fit in my car.
I made it fit. Like Guy, I couldn’t use my rear view mirror either.
I felt badly I shut the car door on the innocent palm tree. That was purely accidental.
But, palm trees are resilient. We’ve all seen newscasts of hurricanes where houses are flung to pieces with widespread damage.
Yet, the palm trees remain intact. How do they do it?
Palm trees have a very large network of short roots which secure plenty of soil around the root ball. This acts as an anchor for the palm tree.
They’re also resilient because they bend in the torrential storms but don’t break. While most trees grow in a cylindrical pattern—remember counting the rings on a stump in school?—the palm tree’s stem is composed of bunches of woody material.
Trees with the cylindrical pattern can support the large weight of branches but aren’t flexible at all. Meanwhile, palm tree stems can bend almost 50 degrees without snapping!
My palm trees and citrus trees survived their respective car rides home. Another funny thing happened. We were so involved with selecting the bushiest and biggest lemon trees that we didn’t notice an error. Even though both trees were labeled “lemon”, limes were clearly growing on one of them.
I need, and we all need, to be more like a palm tree. To develop a huge network of friends and family—“roots”—and be more flexible to ride out any storms.
If you’re friends with a gardener, consider yourself blessed. Things may get a little bit crazy at times but gardeners always look on the sunny side of life. When the rain comes down, well it’s good for the garden. All their plants grow bigger and stronger for having weathered the storm. And, when their lemons turn out to be limes, remember what Jimmy Buffet said:
“If life gives you limes, make margaritas!”