Life Lessons I Learned From Gardeners #1

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You all know by now that I love gardening.  I also love to talk with people who garden, or love nature. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, or the good vibes from being around plants, but most of the gardeners I’ve met are  practical, fun loving and pretty darn wise beyond their years.

They love to toss out well- worn nuggets of wisdom that not only work for the garden, but also in life.  I thought I’d share a few that I enjoy. Over the next couple of weeks, while we are waiting for Spring to officially arrive, I’ll share them with you.

Here is the first:

Never put a $100.00 plant in a $5.00 hole.

This is a favorite of mine.  It  should be self -explanatory, but frequently, if you watch landscapers in action, you’ll will see these beautiful, sprawling trees, going into holes  dug too small for them. Maybe they are also  buried too deep, with their crown buried in the ground and covered with dirt, or too shallow with their roots still exposed.  Even worse, maybe  the  travel wrappings  of burlap and wires  have been  left on as well.  Between the small hole, and being bound up, this very expensive and hearty plant strangles and withers away.  It will try to grow, pushing small, thready roots through wrappings to find something to anchor to. It may  take awhile, but it will eventually die much sooner than nature intended.  We watched this happen to a 35 year old white pine at the Arboretum. No one could figure out why it was dying,  until they dug around the roots and saw that it was still bound in twine. Nothing could be done to save it. It was expensive to plant, and now expensive to remove and replace.

Sneaky people, those gardeners; you can take this same thought and direct it to other things.

My first marriage was a great example of a tree planted in a $5.00 hole.  Okay, he’s  a good guy and we cared about each other, so maybe it was a little more expensive than that. But  while we loved each other in our own way, the depth of our foundation was too shallow, too rocky, and planted at the wrong time and place, to sustain what we tried to grow together. We didn’t have the same values, or the same interests. We had “deal breaker” life choices that both of us chose to ignore.  There was nothing to root us through the windy times. Like that tree, it fell down … and a whole lot sooner than 35 years.

That was a good thing, because it gave me a chance to start again. I learned who I really was and which direction I wanted to go. I learned to stand on my own first.  I figured out what I really needed in a mate and what wouldn’t work.

It took awhile, which was disappointing, but in the long run my hubby Greg was worth the wait. Part of me wishes we had met  sooner, but the reality is we wouldn’t have been ready. We are the same, in all the key areas we both need:  our values; our humor; our outlook on our community; our generosity; our love and dedication to each other; and our view of life. These things make us strong and united, putting down deep roots in rich soil. Our differences are still things that compliment who we are and keep us interesting to each other, with a little mystery mixed in.

When I met Greg, I had three large dogs, one a wolf / husky mix, the others, pure  huskies. They saw cats as toys. Greg had 5 cats, all of whom disliked dogs. My first thought was holy moly, this isn’t going to work. I had a small house, and Greg and I would be out-numbered 4/1.

Greg was more optimistic and dedicated to giving it a try. We started by bringing over his most alpha tempered cat. At first we kept her in a carrier in the living room, then brought her into the bedroom at night. We would keep her there a day or two, then she would go back to Greg’s.  At first, the dogs were crazy, jumping, barking, sniffing, and snapping. Then over the course of a month, the mood changed. The dogs got used to her scent.  They got used to seeing the carrier.  We would bring her out and let them sniff at her. They calmed down.  Eventually the cat, decided she had had enough of just having the bedroom to walk around in. And one night, She managed to get out into the living room while we were asleep.  We awoke to the sound of barking and hissing. I was in a panic, thinking the worst. Chloe, the cat,was on the back of the couch, Sierra and Washoe were sitting on the floor barking at her.  They weren’t attacking her, just barking, as if to say, “You aren’t supposed to be out here! You belong in the bedroom!”

That was our turning point.  Acceptance was there, and it was something to build on. We knew that if we could settle the dog / cat issue, that everything else that came along, was doable.  And it has been.

So whether planting a tree, working on a relationship, or building a life, it’s so important take the time to prepare for it and make sure that base has plenty of room to grow.  For a plant, the hole should be twice and wide as the root ball.  It should have roughened sides, so the roots can breakthrough.  Make sure that when it reaches it’s maximum growth it still has room for growth and possibilities.

It’s the same principle for a relationship, or a home.  Build it on a foundation that’s designed to nurture: similar values, mutual respect, and kindness. Nurture it with food, water, and love. Give it space to grow.

Just a little planning goes a long way and makes all the difference.





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