Bend or Snap

Aside from patience, the other virtue that gardening has taught me is that of flexibility. I can be a rigid fucker, it’s true. My Virgo nature doesn’t embrace or enjoy change – at least not at first. It takes me time to get into a groove. A couple of moments to acclimate myself to something new. But the garden doesn’t pussy-foot around. If a storm is going to knock down a tree or fell a few perfect delphinium spikes, those things are going to go down no matter what. If a winter with nary enough snow cover heaves and rips the roots from the crown of a beloved specimen, get ready to bid it farewell.

Until recently, I was always looking for permanence and stability in the landscape. I wanted plants that would endure, trees and shrubs that would not require regular replanting or replacement. I wanted to plant something once and have it be there forever. But most plants won’t stay put. Even the most well-behaved and slow-growing ones will eventually require pruning or replacement. That changing face of the garden took some getting used to, but the lesson of change is an important one.

The flexible tree branches can sway and bend in the most violent storms. Those that remain rigid, refusing to yield, are the ones that get broken and torn asunder. I’m working on being more bendy.

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