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  • Fe Robinson

Staying with life even when the flowers don't yet bloom

When I planted my new garden last year, I put a row of floribunda rose bushes along the back fence, anticipating by this year I would be enjoying looking at a glorious hedge of abundant pink. What has ensued since has been an education in managing expectations!

The two raised beds the roses occupy were filled with different soil, one side with new soil lovingly wheel borrowed in over back breaking days. On this side, the roses bloom. Their heights are not consistent, but there are flowers aplenty. The other raised bed was filled with the soil from the garden, which had been underneath concrete for many a year. The roses here have been so, so slow to get going, regardless of weekly feeding, composting and careful tending. Two plants died completely and I sadly removed them. Two more have got going just the last few months and are now growing strongly, they are about to flower, albeit modestly this year. And the last, well, it’s grown not a cm as far as I can see, but it remains a vibrant green and is most certainly alive.

So what to do? I’ve been interested by the differing reactions of visitors to the garden. Some say get rid, it’s not met expectations, it may never bud and blossom, cut your losses. Others say, there is life there, keep nurturing, it will come through. Reality of course is that it is just not clear, the rose may recover and grow, but it may not.

Two things of this experience struck me when I sat down to write today. One is the importance of environment. I had no idea the quality of the two soils would be quite so different, that the compost around the plants would not suffice. Environment matters, for roses, and of course for us. How much nourishment do you get from what you eat and drink, from how you spend your time, from the people around you? What sense of community and support beyond yourself can you tap into? Is your environment enriching and generous? And how are you contributing to the environment of others?

The second thing I noticed is that given love and care life can recover, even when conditions have been adverse. I am going to keep tending my little green rose, until it sprouts and blossoms, or right up until it stops being green and is beyond doubt dead. We seldom meet the expectations of others, and what is at fault most often is their expectations, not our living. When we can meet each other where we are, and nurture and encourage each other to become our best, authentic self, then we are creating the conditions for personal growth and self-development. Like my rose bushes, we are each unique, and we will not grow into a uniform shape and size, we will be the person we are in all our glory.

It’s great looking out of my therapy room window and seeing the diversity of life, right there, a reminder of the importance of interactions, and the ways life is both inter-connected and decidedly individual.

I’d love it if you could send growing vibes to my little rose, and encourage life in all its forms around you, there is something quite magical and healing about enabling others, both nurturing and protecting, I believe its an instinctive part of what we are.


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