I have the most amazing ground cover in my front flower bed. It's called phlox, and it blooms in these beautiful tiny flowers that look like fluffy lavender clouds. It blooms in early spring, and this year, the flowers stayed intact for over a month. It was breathtaking. But now, mid May, most of the velvety purple cloud is gone, and what's left is a dingy green carpet.
So this morning, I was looking at the dingy green phlox and wondering if it was a good idea to have so much of it in my flower bed. It bloomed so early, and now it's not so great to look at for the rest of the year. I weighed the pros (gorgeous purple flowers in early spring) with the cons (dingy green ground cover the rest of the year). And I decided that the beauty of it - though short-lived - was worth it to me.
I also rationalized that there were numerous other plants in my flower bed that would balance out the dying phlox, and would take the attention for themselves. I'm definitely no expert gardener (in fact I'm surprised I haven't already killed all of my flowers) but I'm learning a bit here and there, and apparently the first rule of designing a flower bed is to include a variety of species that bloom at different times, as well as some evergreen shrubs to anchor everything year round. Luckily whoever planted my front flower bed before Dan and I bought our house knew what they were doing.
As I was contemplating my phlox this morning, I realized that people are a lot like flowers.
I spend a lot of time thinking about people. I like to analyze their personality types, their strengths and weaknesses, their contributions, their craziness level, what they give to a situation or an organization or a cause vs. what they take. In these observations, I also note how people are accepted, embraced, tolerated, or shunned by others.
It seems to me that, in most situations you have your evergreens, your phlox and your peonies. (I realize that there are probably more appropriate plant types to use here, but these are the ones that I have at my house, so just go with it).
Evergreens are consistent all year round. They never lose their leaves, and they are steadily productive and utterly dependable. They are the bedrock of any organization and they set the stage for the other flowers to do their thing.
Then there are the phlox. These guys come in and immediately show their brilliance - covering the landscape with their beautiful pillowy purple blooms and wowing everyone. But their brilliance can't last past spring, so they fade pretty quickly into the background and begin preparing for next year's show.
Finally you have your peonies. These folks start out as a billowy green bush, which is nice enough on its own, and respectable like an evergreen, until late spring when we start to see the beginnings of blossoms emerging all over the bush. But the blooms are achingly slow to mature... they still hold tight long after the other spring flowers have shown their colors. Then finally, one day, when they are good and ready and given they have been in the proper conditions with plenty of sun and water, the most amazing and breathtaking blossoms emerge and the entire bush glows with beauty.
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up with thinking that one kind of plant is better than the other. When we're mesmerized by the brilliance of the phlox, it's hard to see the worth of the slow-poke peony. But when the phlox starts to lose steam, and the peony starts to put on her show, it's easy to change our mind and favor the peony. And in the dead of winter when all of the other plants are dormant, we may start to think that the evergreens are the only ones we can ever really count on. But the fact is, we need all three. We need the variety and the strengths of each person (er... plant) to have a successful and healthy team that will flourish year round. And we need to be sure to put each one in the proper conditions to ensure that they become the best that they can be.
And just as I decided this morning that I was willing to accept the unsightly view of the phlox, because I so appreciated the beauty that I know it is capable of, we must also accept the less appealing aspects of others (and ourselves), because we recognize the beauty that they have within that will emerge when the time is right.
Which spring flower are you? The brilliant early go-getter, the slow timid late-bloomer, or the strong, dependable evergreen? Are you putting yourself in the optimum conditions so that when it's your turn to shine, you'll be the best that you can be?
Till next time,
© Haley McManigal 2016
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