Children, Marriages, and Flower Gardens

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I came across this quote a few years ago, and I love it. It speaks to me in a way that is both inspiring and challenging. The comparison between close relationships and gardening is an accurate one, and I think it requires a little experience in gardening in order to be able to have a full appreciation.

As a new plant mom, I have learned a lot about what it takes to keep a plant alive and happy. It takes sunlight and water, but that alone is not enough. The soil, pot/container, air temperature, type of water, potential pests, fertilizer, need for pruning, and daily sun requirements must all be considered. These variables are also constantly changing. As a result, it requires consistent monitoring to ensure the plant is getting what it needs. Basically, plants are high maintenance, even the ones that are classified as “easy to take care of”. They are beautiful, but they require work and effort.

I did not fully understand this when I decided to buy two Boston ferns, a corn plant, and a bacopa plant. Now, to an experienced or even intermediate gardener, these are all easy plants to care for. For a newbie like me, however, they were not. The corn plant and the bacopa nearly died before I figured out what I needed to do. The corn plant ended up being repotted twice, and a lot of its leaves turned an ugly shade of brown before I got it under control!

I learned that the corn plant needs a lot of indirect sunlight, in addition to being watered once every seven to ten days, preferably with distilled water. The bacopa plant needs to be watered about every other day, and it needs to be outside to get adequate sunlight. However, it guzzles water if the weather is hot, so it needs to be checked daily to ensure the soil isn’t too dry. The Boston ferns are watered about twice a week, and they do well in indirect sunlight. It took time, attention, and research to be able to give these plants what they need in order to grow successfully, and it is something that I am proud of.

I usually kill the rooted plants that come into our home through my lack of attention and care, but I have really worked to understand how to make these plants last. I’ve always wanted to have houseplants, and now that I took the time to gain more knowledge about their needs, my efforts have finally been fruitful. In fact, I am taking it a step further by planting several flower gardens around the house this spring. Even though every horticulture endeavor I undertake may not be successful, I don’t want it to be for lack of effort.

Since becoming a more successful gardener, the above quote has a deeper meaning to me. Things that are given time, attention, and love will bloom. When these things are neglected, it will eventually become obvious. While gardens quickly reflect the care that they get (or don’t get), marriages and children tend to have a more delayed response. Negative behaviors or habits in a marriage usually do not cause cracks immediately, it takes time. The same is true with children. Bad parenting habits usually do not cause harm immediately, but repeated expose to these bad habits will eventually negatively affect the child.

But what about the good things in parenting and growing a marriage? Do those things take time too? Yes, I think they do. Just like a plant that requires consistent watering and sunlight to grow, marriages and parenting require the same steady effort.

While watering a plant is pretty easy, there is much more to it than that. You have to be careful to not water it too much, but not too little. You may even have to make sure the water is distilled instead of regular tap water. The plant will have to get sunlight, but not too much that it burns or becomes too dry. You will also have to consider the environment, the temperature, and the container. The plants need an attentive gardener, as do spouses and children.

It should be an frequent occurrence, to show attention and love towards something that is in your care, whether it is a marriage, a child, or even a plant. Now, it will not cause harm to someone else if your plants do not have long lives, but it serves as a barometer for things under our care.

I have come to see my plants as a representation of my home life. If I am capable of taking the time to nurture my plants, I can apply that same effort towards my marriage and my parenting. If I can directly contribute to my plants blooming, I can directly contribute to my marriage and child blooming too.                   

The climate here in Florida ensures that green things grow well, and I want the climate in my home to ensure that my closest relationships grow well too.

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