a quiet discovery

I’m not a very good gardener. I’m not even a mediocre gardener. Amateur-ish at best (?) It’s not a huge passion of mine, but I have an appreciation for gardening and the value of having plants and trees around. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere void of greenery, but I will admit to plants not surviving my neglect and general ignorance of how to care for them.

Still, some do alright. Some even thrive. 

I think the first plant I got at my new place was an anthurium from a friend. I still have it, and I’m happy to say that it seems to be thriving. It did take a lot of trial and error, though: it took a lot of moving it around to different positions – in and out of the house – and agonising over how much sun and water it needed (and what it actually got).

But now it sits under one of the front windows, and it’s very much still alive with its dark green leaves and bright red flowers. And although the stalks stretch out in all directions like a scruffy kid with untameable bed hair, I look at it and feel something like pride, and also amazement at its being alive.

Shortly after I moved in, I also got this little “mosaic plant” (I don’t know it’s proper name), which I put in a little pot in the corner of the living room. I got it from Bunnings (a gardening/outdoors store) as a bit of an impulse buy (and because it was small and seemed interesting and not too difficult to look after). Of course, I didn’t know anything about how to care for it apart from what was written on the tiny card that was stuck in its tiny plastic pot. And that gave pretty vague instructions, anyway.

I could have Googled it – I could have read up on it in five minutes on the train or before bed or while eating breakfast one morning – but I didn’t. (In fact, I could do that now, but I won’t.) I suppose I figured it couldn’t be that hard. You just have to give it water when the soil looked a bit dry, right? And maybe I just wanted to figure it out for myself (and still do).

Well, it did fine in winter and spring, but as the weather warmed up, it seemed to struggle. Or maybe it was just because I kept forgetting to water it. Maybe I should’ve moved it elsewhere – I just didn’t really notice it where it was. Still, at one point I thought it was languishing from not having enough sunlight, and then I quickly realised that was a mistake.

So it went back on the table in the corner.

And it was clearly no longer thriving, but it was still alive. When it was lacking water (and love), its stalks would droop, but all it took was a good watering, and they’d recover by the next morning.

Since mornings are usually busy for me, most of my plant watering happens in the evening. Sometimes it happens late at night, just before I go to bed (because that’s when I happen to remember my plant owner responsibilities), when the world outside is quiet, and the world inside is even quieter.

I always knew there was some therapeutic benefit in keeping plants and looking after them, but since having my anthurium and my mosaic plant, I’ve discovered something more to this.

It was late one night (that’s about all the detail I remember regarding when this discovery was made), and I was sitting by my little mosaic plant with a bottle of water. Because its pot was so little, I poured the water into the cap before pouring it over the soil (so that I wouldn’t accidentally get water all over the table).

And I found that it was calming to sit down and gently tend to this plant. And it was soothing to watch the water trickle around the soil and slowly seep into it. But, most of all, it was amazing to realise that I could hear the water getting absorbed into the soil. (Is that an indication of just how dry the soil was?)

I’m not sure how I’d describe the sound – somewhere between a trickle and a crackle (?)

I noticed it when I watered the anthurium too, this sound of dry soil finally getting some relief, gratefully sucking up the water being gently poured upon it.

Sometimes, if I’m not too tired, when I’m watering my plants late at night, I listen for this sound. It makes me smile every time. And I’m not really sure why I find it so amazing, but I do.

Maybe it’s the implication that if we just stop or slow down, and just listen while everything else is quiet, maybe we’d make an unexpected yet wondrous discovery.

3 thoughts on “a quiet discovery

  1. I didn’t discover the power of plants until I moved to California, where it is impossible to be a bad gardener. Provided they are heat tolerant, even my black thumb cannot fail plants here! And I discovered, like you, a quiet pleasure in tending to them, in watering them, in helping them thrive. I have plants that are now 20 years old! They are like old friends.

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