Garden Lessons: Perseverance

If you read my post on Garden Lessons: Sharing, you will already know that gardening is helpful when it comes to teaching important and essential values in life. Gardening is so clever, it sometimes even teaches you these little lessons without you actually knowing it. Not only this it can also remind the adult gardener to remember the importance of having these values. I am a great believer in teaching children to garden from an early age as there are so many opportunities in addition to gardening skills, to learn other valuable life skills that will be carried through with them into adulthood that will be of great help.

I’m reminded of the song from the film Alice in Wonderland “You can learn a lot of things from the flowers”, and one of the things plants teach us is to not give up and to persevere!

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One might say that a gardener is not without grit and determination and does not give up straight away if something doesn’t work out the first time. It’s not in a gardener’s nature because let’s face it, gardening deals with living things and not everything in life goes according to plan. There will be hurdles to overcome, lessons to be learnt from mistakes made, agonising moments when all around you plants seem to be dying and for love nor money you can’t fathom why despite scouring through the internet. In the garden, your perseverance might be needed on a number of different occasions during the week or a number of different times during that same day.

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Plants that come back year after year, especially after harsh winters, amaze me as do birds and other wildlife in the garden.

There are factors we can control to try to get the best results in gardening. This might be ensuring good quality soil or how many seeds we sow in order to get the optimal germination rate yet there are also those factors we cannot control, for example the weather or pest invasion. Sometimes, there may even be factors you have controlled and then the unexpected happens. Gardening is just one of those things in life, whereby each year is different and varied. You can learn all the skills in the book, be very talented yet one big storm and what you had hoped might do well in the garden, could be a downfall that year. Don’t be put off though because more often than not, the things you think won’t do so well, end up being your prized beauties. I think a good way to look at it is to expect the unexpected and embrace that each gardening year is different. It would get boring if each year was the same.

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So happy to see these cherry tomatoes!

This year I decided to sow my tomato seeds earlier than normal to give them a longer growing period. It was still cold outside so I decided to start them off in the house. Well never have I seen such spindly, weak looking seedlings – I could have cried! Due to the indoor heating and sunlight streaming in through the window, they had grown far too quick and in the direction of the sun. I certainly couldn’t turn the temperature down in the house, for one I would be very unpopular with family members but secondly the damage had already been done and there was no going back. For those of you that are beginners, seedlings need to start their life off strong and sturdy, in order to bear the weight of either fruit or vegetables and just generally to stay healthy. Mine were so bad I didn’t even bother taking a photo of them, but now I wish I had!

As the temperatures became milder, I decided to not give up on the tiny tomato plants but try acclimatising them to the outside. There were days when a gentle breeze blew by but this was actually helpful to encourage the stems to thicken and become sturdier. The problem came when a sudden drop in temperatures appeared overnight and I woke up to minus numbers and purple looking tomato plants. Again I felt despair at the thought of them not being able to overcome this last unexpected disaster but still I didn’t give up on them.

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Not so stunted now!

After providing shelter for a few days outside, they still persevered despite being temporarily stunted in growth and now possessing huge hairs on their stems to help with the cold. If anything, it was actually very interesting to watch and if at the end of it all, I didn’t have any tomatoes, I would have least seen and learnt a lot.

I am happy to report back that after the sunny Summer days, the tomato plants pulled through, grew taller than a metre and have produced bountiful amounts of tomatoes for us to eat despite the many setbacks they endured. I’ve even had the biggest beef tomato that I’ve ever grown. It just goes to show that with perseverance, anything is possible. It also shows that plants can often be more resilient than we give them credit for. They don’t give up the fight and we should take a leaf out of their books.

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A few of the beef, plum and cherry tomatoes.

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Jasmine plant brought back to life.

Knowing how resilient plants can be from previous gardening experience, it takes a lot for me to give up on a plant and acknowledge it’s days are numbered. I give them every opportunity possible even if a plant looks dead, there may be deep within their roots or stem, a life worth saving. I have been known to revive plants on their very last legs (or I should say last roots!) by shocking their roots but I only do this if there are no other choices and this is the last resort. There really is nothing left to loose! It involves removing any soil and dead roots before placing the plant’s root ball in a bucket of very cold water and letting them soak there between thirty minutes to an hour. I have had some incredibly amazing results from this method! I just wish I’d thought at the time to take photos to show you!

 

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Box hedge in 2015, with our gorgeous girls Gerty and Elsa.

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Box hedge today after attack of the caterpillars.

I have, however, taken a photo of our box hedge that unfortunately has been attacked by caterpillars this summer and looks rather unhappy. I will keep you posted on how this one turns out. I’m not giving up on it yet.

Gardening and perseverance go hand in hand. The garden teaches you to persevere and you need to persevere to garden. I admit it’s not always easy to persevere and it can be heartbreaking when something doesn’t turn out the way you intended but let me promise you this, the rewards will be that much greater if you do have to keep trying and amending, than say if everything had gone according to plan without any hitches.

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