Friday, September 22, 2017
THE RIGHT SPOT
I've found that putting a plant in the right spot makes a world of difference in its ability to thrive. We have a sunny hillside that faces directly west. During the summer, the hill gets too much sun and many of the plants end up with burned leaves and drooping branches. Two bottle brushes grow on the hill. One of the bottle brushes is in just the right shady spot. Its branches are full of leaves, it looks healthy, and can withstand the occasional pruning of our deer. The other bottle brush is just a couple of feet away, but in more sun in the afternoon. Its spindly branches slump from the heat with a few leaves at the tips. The deer do further damage. The same is true of our three hibiscuses. Two are in the right spot and are shapely, while the third is in too much shade so the deer pruning is consequential.
Plants need their right spots. People do too. Do you know people who keep searching for their right spot? I think of large families where some of the siblings grow and thrive with vigor. Other members either don't connect well with their original family or suffer a series of difficult events, which makes resiliency hard to maintain. I was reminded how hard some people have struggled to find their right spot when Carl Nolte, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote about the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.* The City became a destination for runaways that summer. Nolte wrote about Jaki Katz, a runaway to the West Coast. She said she ran away because "I was a child of middle-class parents who lived in suburbia. I was spirited and they were not...." She eventually made up with her parents and now lives as an artist in Idaho. She was lucky, she found her right spot.
When I look at my garden, I am reminded of one of my favorite gardening writers, Beverley Nichols, who wrote about gardening in his home in England. His stories about wrestling with nature gave me inspiration because of the life lessons he learned as well.
He said, "The greatest service of the amateur in the art of gardening--or indeed in any of the arts--is that he does things wrong, either from courage, obstinacy, or sheer stupidity. He breaks rules right and left, planting things in the wrong soil at the wrong time of the year in the wrong aspect. And usually, we must admit, the result is disastrous. But not always." (Garden Open Today, 185)
Doesn't his remark fit our own search for the right spot in life too?
Other books by Beverley Nichols can be found at Barnes & Nobles online: