Garden as metaphor: Room to Grow

Helianthus x. muliflorus, or a perennial Sunflower. It never bloomed until it was planted in the ground this past spring.

Helianthus x. muliflorus, or a perennial Sunflower. It never bloomed until it was planted in the ground this past spring.

By Janit Calvo
September 3, 2009

Don’t you just love it when the garden collides with life’s metaphors?

I knew I liked this plant – I just couldn’t remember why.

I had a perennial in a container grouping for the past six years that never bloomed and never got taller than one foot. I completely forgot what it was supposed to be but, for some reason, I didn’t relegate it to the compost bin either.

Then, last spring, I had to break up the pot and release the perennials into the garden bed. The plant in question adjusted quickly, and eventually came out of hiding and – surprise – it bloomed.

I now remember why I kept it. It’s a Helianthus x. multiflorus. In other words, it’s a variety of Sunflower, and sunflowers are just one of my favorites. (Actually, this is why I’m a plantaholic – I like pretty much like anything that blooms. Dangerous.)

And the metaphor?

If life is a garden, give yourself enough room for your roots to grow, or you won’t bloom.

Some plants love being in containers and can stay there for years and years before needing more room. I have a little Mugo Pine that has been in a tiny pot for about five years and never, ever complains.

They don’t mind having their roots confined, which is why they make great plants for bonsai.

But some plants need room for their roots to grow or they won’t be at their finest like my Helianthus. Despite being in a fairly large pot, it still didn’t have enough room for the roots and kept to itself, bided its time, stayed alive, only grew to half its height and never showed a flower for years.

Guess I should have looked it up before putting it in a container.

Some people do well in a condominium downtown, living in huge buildings that reach for the sky, where people are literately compartmentalized into their living quarters. I do envy them to a certain extent.

No weeding and mowing to do, they just enjoy their lives and have the whole downtown as a playground that is just outside their front door.

Other people need a lot of space around them, fields to plant in and crops to sow and reap. And some of us just need a little garden to tend and a place to grow some veggies – and maybe a miniature garden or three.

Now, are you giving yourself enough room to grow?


1 Comment »

  1. Martha said

    Oh Janit, this is the most beautiful post I have read lately and I am following a few blogs. I just love your quote about life being like a garden. Can I use it sometimes? With credit given to you, of course!! And the picture of the Sunflowers is so beautiful too. It made me realize that I also have a plant that probably needs to be in the ground. I can’t remember the name of it right now either. It did bloom once but soon afterward it slowly died. I left it in it’s pot ( a big one too, by the way) and it started growing leaves again and now it dying again. I’m going to plant it in the grow and nurse it back to health. Thanks for the great post.


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