Garden as Metaphor: A Time to Heal

Plants can only do one thing at a time. When they do that one thing, they put all their energy into it.

Garden as Metaphor: A Time to Heal

By Janit Calvo
November 18, 2009

“How do you know the plant is established?”

That is one of the more common questions that I get asked when I teach beginner-gardeners about the joy of miniature gardening.

Did you know that plants can only do one thing at a time?

Have you ever seen a plant multi-task?

Visions of plants texting, doing the laundry, while simultaneously having a conversation and cooking dinner come to mind, but, that’s not what I mean.

Plants can only do one thing at a time. When they do that one thing, they put all their energy into it. They get it done so they can move on to the next thing on their agenda: rooting, growing leaves, flower and fruiting, going to seed, being dormant or dying.

While this is a very generalistic way of describing how plants grow, it’s basically what they need to do in order to survive.

Why don’t we do that?

When I fell sick late last week, I didn’t stop. I kept on going. Oh, sure, I felt okay, but I wasn’t getting better – I was maintaining. I was multi-tasking.

Then I got sicker.

“Alright,” I said to myself, “I’ll check out for a day.”

Then the phone started ringing and the orders were flowing in…. I called my helper/buddy in. We got some stuff taken care of, but I didn’t get the rest that I desperately needed.

If I had stopped and healed when I first felt sick, I would be much better off today.

Now, that said, I’m thankful that the global economy does not rest on Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, and I can take a couple of hours here or a day or two there….

But perhaps I should have acted more like a plant.

(Answer: You can tell the plant is established when you see new top growth. That is how you know the roots are finished growing for now, and the plant’s energy has shifted to growing leaves.)

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