Monday, May 18, 2015

With Plants and Newborns, There Are No Guarantees!

The planting season is in full swing, and I've definitely hitched my wagon to it again.  The three hostas my sister-in-law gave me are now enjoying the rick soil under the plum tree. The petunias, geraniums, and those spiky things are bordering the shrubs in front of the house. Since two of my heather bushes were severely damaged over the winter, they need to be replaced. I haven't decided whether to subplant them with dwarf hydrangeas or mimi shrubs. Most likely it will be the hydrangeas, but I could change my mind at the last minute.

The thing about planting is that although your heart is in the right place, you never know exactly what the outcome will be. Digging the hole twice the size of the base, filling it with water, adding nutritional soil, and making sure the plant is lowered to the specified mark should result in lush growth, an abundance of healthy greenery, and a cascade of beautiful flowers. Right?

Well, over the last forty years, my outcomes have been varied to say the least. Many times, after fulfilling all the requirements, I've been rewarded with lush growth, healthy greenery, and beautiful flowers. But, more than I care to admit, after having done everything that is outlined on the planting instructions card, my efforts have resulted in straggly growth, yellowish leaves, and a few deformed buds.

Why I ask myself that if I've followed procedures to the T each and every time, are the end results so uncertain? I know there are many factors that are out of my control. For instance, BUGS! One of my hydrangea bushes was absolutely gorgeous last spring, while the other's leaves began curling as soon as they appeared. By the time I noticed what was happening, most of the foliage had been destroyed. My husband decided spraying vinegar on it would revive its growth, but only served to add to the poor plant's health problems. In the end, flowers of pink adorned the first bush, while brown, brittle lifeless leaves withered on the second one and produced nada in the way of floral beauties.

Another deciding factor of how well plants do is the amount of water they receive on a weekly basis. Most instructions call for watering every other day. It is usually advised that application should be at the base of the plant rather than on its leaves. Whatever the specifics are, I'm on it. Yet when the plants fail to thrive, I'm told that either I watered too much, or too little. Sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do!

Success in raising plants is comparable to raising children. You can read all the books in the world, take care of yourself throughout your pregnancy, give birth in a fine facility at the hands of a well-qualified obstetrician, prepare a nursery fit for a king or queen, breast feed or bottle feed with the best available formula, and devise a schedule resulting in long naps and a full night's sleep.

You would think that with all that preparation, your baby would be a dream come true from the get-go. Well think again! Some infants will be exactly that, an absolute pleasure. But, for most of them, their nights will be days and their days will be nights. Feeding will be spotty at best since your baby will fall asleep at exactly the same time the nipple or bottle is presented. The moment you head for the nursery to place him or her in the crib, their eyes and mouth will pop open at the same time. You will repeat this process again and again hoping for a positive outcome, but nine times out of ten, you'll be disappointed. The schedule you've carefully devised may as well be burned at the stake since that's about all it's good for right now.

Will this unruly being ever become the healthy, flowering human you've planned for? In time you'll begin to see promising buds indicative of growth and development. Don't get me wrong though, there will be times when his or her strides will be short-lived, regressing to former negative behavior. Their adherence to schedule will be spotty. Showering them with all the hugs and kisses in the world might have little to no effect on them for a while.

But there is no need for despair. As months pass, as long as you've checked for bugs, and made sure your hubby didn't accidental fill the bottles with vinegar instead of formula, your new addition to the family will become the most beautiful rose in your garden. I promise!