10 Thoughts on New Growth

I was pruning the roses today, and I couldn’t help noticing all the signs of new growth that is already underway in the garden. As I looked, and as I took a few photos, I realised that there are many observations about new growth that we could relate to our own personal growth and learning.

  1. New growth can take everyone by surprise!

New growth seems to appear out of nowhere. But actually, it was probably a long time building. It needed a fertile soil and a hospitable climate in order to take hold. There was a lot going on under the surface before it broke out and became visible to others.

Last week, there was no sign of inflorescences on these Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii (Mediterranean Spurge). Then all of a sudden, here they are!

Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii (Mediterranean Spurge)

The Euphorbia had a lot going on that I wasn’t aware of. What we see is a fraction of what is there.

2. New growth comes from deep inside.

It is from our very core, from the essence of our being, deep inside us. It can be intensely private at first.

Take the humble primrose, Primula vulgaris. This one is just starting into growth, but you can see the new leaves coiled at its centre.

Primula vulgaris

If you look really closely, you can see some teeny tiny embryonic flowerlets starting to take shape. They have a fine down to protect them, and are tightly coiled. They are nestled in the relative warmth and safety, deep inside the plant. This new growth must be very precious.

Primula vulgaris. Unripe flowers.

3. New growth spreads outwards.

This is another primrose, which has grown in the shelter of our house wall. This one has unleashed its first flush of new growth into the world! Now the growth radiates outwards. You can see there will be a succession of flowers: more are waiting beneath the open flowers. New flowers develop at the centre of the plant and move upwards and outwards to spread their seed beyond the confines of the parent plant. They have to move out into the world and be free.

Primula vulgaris.

4. We can be shy about showing our new growth.

This sudden new growth can be alarming! To the plant, as well as the outside world. Sometimes we are nervous about showing our new growth, and bide our time before trying it out.

Take this Hellebore, Helleborus orientalis.

Helleborus orientalis

Each flower has a protective hood. It is rather a lovely little hood, tinged with apricot and plum. I have a thing for smoky apricot and plum tones.

Helleborus orientalis

You can see the lovely tones here in the top flower, with the leaves curling around, cradling, a premature flower.

Helleborus orientalis

Look at the gorgeous plum tones of the flower which is about to hatch!

Helleborus orientalis, in bud

What on earth will it do next? With this many looking on, you can see why it is a little bit shy to reveal itself.

5. New growth means we can discard the old, tired stuff.

You can see really clearly from this Primrose where the new growth is. Last year’s leaves did a really good job, but can offer no more. They are slowly dying back. The nutrients will feed back into the soil, to feed future growth.

Primula vulgaris, showing new growth at the centre, and last year’s leaves outside.

6. New growth stops and starts.

It is early for a lot of this new growth. New growth is like that. It can suddenly sprint forward, but then there might be a check to its growth. Plants have many ways to gauge whether to grow or not. Light levels, day length, temperature and weather conditions can all play a part, and different plants respond to different conditions. If we have a sudden cold spell, growth will stop. Human growth and learning is a bit like this too. Sometimes the conditions are right for rapid growth, and sometimes conditions aren’t conducive for growth, and we have to wait it out.

These tulips have raced ahead of themselves, and may need to take a bit of a breather. There is plenty of time for them before they need to open.

Even this tulip is fairly avant guard.


The tulips in the cutting patch haven’t emerged yet, but I know there are there, underground, fomenting ideas, considering their options, taking their time. They will join in when they feel ready. They will all add something unique.

7. New growth can come from an ugly place.

If I think about my life, my most dramatic change has come from adversity. From bereavement comes an appreciation of life. From failure comes new direction. From confinement comes a sudden break for freedom.

Take this Pulmonaria. At the start of winter it was a bedraggled mess. It had been beaten down by the elements. It had no self-belief, and looked ready to curl up and die. But look! Today there is a coarse, hairy nub of flower buds.

It only takes one little flower bud to crack open and peep out, and it’s back in the game!

What a magical little bud it is! It manages to conjure up every delicious shade of purple there is: ultraviolet, amethyst, lavender, heliotrope, magenta, plum! Its petals start out like shot silk, and take on an airy crepe paper lightness as the flower trumpets out to the world. This single voice will be joined by a whole chorus: it is going to be marvellous!

8. New growth can get trampled.

Because new growth is modest and shy, and comes from a tender place, it is easy for others to clumsily stumble upon it and accidentally trample it. If they realise they have done this, they are generally horrified and they apologise straight away. For a small number of stumblers, it can be hard to say sorry.

The trampled one will be temporarily checked, but the growth will continue. They might grow a little bit bent, but that just makes them more interesting.

This daffodil might have been nudged a bit when I was clearing debris from the border. I’m sorry little daffodil. I will let you take your chosen shape now, growing upwards and outwards as you see fit.

9. It’s good to grow together.

It’s good to have company when we’re growing our ideas. We can bounce ideas off one another. We feel revitalised when we ignite one another’s fire. Things might get heated or confused at times. That’s ok, we can take a break, and go away and reflect. We know we will resolve things when we are calmer.

I think I moved this Oriental Poppy three years ago (the little rosette, looking like a weed next to the palm tree leaves of Lupin).

I didn’t think that the poppy’s bright orange colour was right for the rose garden. I had bought it thinking it was coral. The poppy had its own ideas. It wanted to be orange. Having transplanted it to the bright border where it could flame away with the other militants, I planted a refined and stately blue Lupin, ‘Thunderclouds’, here.

Well that brave poppy decided to hang around. There are several re-spouted clumps in the vicinity, such is its tenacity. And I have to admit that its flame orange looks pretty good with the Lupin’s cool blue. Cross-party cooperation can achieve great things.

10. New growth is unstoppable.

It might come from deep within, from a private place, or from an ugly place or a despondent place. It might be slow, and it might even even halt for a while if conditions aren’t right. It might get trampled. It might hang on by a thread.

But new growth is unstoppable. It must grow up and out and reach into the world and show its colours. It must unfurl and be free and be joyful.

Hello snowdrops!

You seem to have come from nowhere. I had almost forgotten you.

How did you contain all this wonder in such a tiny little bulb?

How do you hold it together, when you look so small? The wind buffets you, and you just dance through it.

How is it that little old you, when all the others are much bigger, much stronger, more colourful, more showy… How is it that the humble little snowdrop is the bravest of all?

That’s new growth.

The Mindful Gardener is an eclectic mix. There are practical posts now and then. How to plant bulbs and prune roses and such like. And there are the more fanciful posts, just aimed at enjoying all life has to offer. Sometimes The Mindful Gardener likes to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going.

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53 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    A beautiful post – in the midst of darkness thing are changing!

    1. They have snuck up on me this year, to my delight!

  2. Rupali says:

    Ah! life goes on. We are still waiting for a proper winter 🙂

    1. Yes, we have not had a prolonged period of cold.

  3. So beautiful and inspiring. Its so nice to see the promise of new growth in the garden. 💗

    1. It certainly is. Winter may stretch out for a while longer, but it is good to see some early signs.

  4. Ann Mackay says:

    New growth is exciting, whether it’s in the garden or within ourselves. 🙂

  5. Love this, change is constant and inevitable; though your photos did make me a little jealous about how much is already growing in your garden, it’ll probably be another few weeks before anything is brave enough to peek out of the soil up here. ☺

    1. It may get a check this week with temperatures dipping, but nice to get a sneak preview.

  6. Such a fantastic time in the garden, so much happening. Lovely post

  7. Lovely Ali! So precious to see all of your new green growth. Is that early for you? Seems early to me and it would be for here, but I was wondering if your spring plants come this early every year. We have snow and getting 6-8 more inches on Saturday, followed by bitter cold, so it will be February, maybe March before we even see snow drops or crocus. It’s hard not to be jealous, but I am enjoying my time of hibernation and hunkering down while the snow flies.

    1. It is quite early, but it varies a lot here. These might get a check to their growth and just stay in stasis for a couple of weeks. It amazes me, both the variation and the way it corrects itself in the end.

  8. Heyjude says:

    You have a lot of growth in your garden. I planted some snowdrops last year but no sign of them yet, well there are some green shoots coming through, so maybe they are on the way. But I did see some forget-me-nots in flower! Now they are a little early. I love how you compare human life with plant life. After all, we are the same.

    1. I have a couple of clumps that are really early, and then dozens of new patches where they always seem late, and I worry they have died off! Wow, forget-me-nots are very early!

  9. I commented on this one on fb Garden Bloggers. Good show!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment on fb. ❤️

  10. Beautiful pics! I wish I could still put in a garden! I really miss it. I normally just put in veggies but seeing your pics makes me wish I had planted lots of flowers as well! ❤

    1. I guerilla garden into our veg patch with a few snowdrops and primroses! And a wildflower patch in a rough old corner. It brings in the bees for the peas!

  11. Chloris says:

    It’s only January so it’s good to see so many buds waiting to pop. I love the garden in winter, it is full of excitement and anticipation. And the breeze wafts exotic perfumes as so many winter flowers are scented.

    1. That’s true; I need to appreciate winter gardens more.

  12. What a well thought out analogy! Just emerging new growth from the bracken of the old left overs is exactly what occurs within our minds and souls. You remind me that I must do an attitude check about myself within this winter glum. God is doing new things inside me as well as outside in my messy winter garden. Thank you, Ali! ~ Jo

    1. I have to try to like winter, especially as spring gets close and I’m willing it all to happen! We seem to have a long spr-inter, where it is not sure if it is spring or still winter.

      1. HaHa! Same here in Central Washington state! A late frost can damage those little plants just pushing up, if not outright murder them in the night.

      2. With highs in the 40s already, and misty, I find myself expecting those first crocuses, but probably still too early for them.

      3. We have the foliage of crocuses, but I think they will be checked this week, as we have some cold days and nights forecast.

      4. I am always over-eager to plant things out in late spring, when we’re running out of room on the benches outside the greenhouse. I live in fear of a late frost for a couple of weeks!

  13. bcparkison says:

    I better go check my roses.

    1. I love to see the new buds on the roses!

  14. M.B. Henry says:

    Such beautiful pictures 🙂 New growth is indeed beautiful!

    1. Snowdrops are so perfect for the season, aren’t they?

  15. Ali, this is wonderful. And I thank you especially for listing these ten lessons of growth. I was feeling impatient with an area of growth in my life, so the one about growth taking us by surprise was very helpful to me.

    1. That is good to hear, Shelly. Yes, often I have been surprised by what has been bubbling away under the surface and then suddenly it pops out and I am aware.

  16. Jennifer says:

    An interesting read. I need to pay attention more.

    1. I can recommend taking a little walk and peering closely! ❤️

  17. What a beautiful reflective post Ali. The wonders of Nature are quite amazing.

    1. I love that even though this happens every year we’re still so surprised!

  18. Eliza Waters says:

    Exciting to see – thanks for sharing the quiet wonders in your garden, Ali.

  19. Another beautiful post…on so many levels. I’ve been thinking a lot about new growth lately! And, I’m not talking about the 5 pounds I’ve put on since we moved! I like #6. I’m reminding myself to be patient.

    1. Thank you Michele. It is lovely to know if one point resonated more than others. Yes, there have been a few areas of learning that I have come back to a few times, like the learning is cyclical/seasonal. It might lie dormant for a while, but is still there. Each growing season is different, but the general direction is upwards and outwards, even if it stops for a while.

      1. Well said. If I were a gardener, as you are, my post would be entitled the perils and pleasures of transplantation! I am writing something now that has been inspired by a plant given to me by my neighbors. Hope I can do the subject half as well as you do!

      2. Oh, transportation takes its toll, doesn’t it? With a mature plant it can take some time for the plant to get over its shock at being moved. In fact for most perennials, I trim all the leaves right back before I transplant because if there is too much foliage to support, the roots might not get established. So maybe the advice is to expect very little of yourself for a growing season and know that it will take time! I look forward to your post, Michele, you always have something interesting and memorable to say.

      3. Thanks for the encouragement, Ali. And, the compliment, too!

  20. Linda Casper says:

    I’m loving your posts. The concept that new growth can come from an ugly place and growing together especially touched me at a low place in a new year.

    1. I’m really pleased that this post resonated with you Linda. I have found gardening to be the best therapy. You can really feel that there is something willing growth on, and that it just keeps on going through the tough days. Sending love to you.

  21. Robyn Haynes says:

    A lovely post Ali, with superb photos of new growth. I love to find something new happening in my tiny garden and get excited when new growth appears.

    1. You really pay attention in a small garden, don’t you? I loved every inch of my small garden.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I think that’s it. Every shoot every bud is nurtured that little bit more.

  22. So much truth and wisdom in there Ali along with some really beautiful photos of the plants growing in your garden. I totally agree we can be shy to show new growth at times, It’s certainly true of me. Encouraging to read that in someone else’s words. I share your thoughts too on growth coming from adversity and especially bereavement, life definitely takes on a different outlook and in lots of ways far more appreciated.

    1. Thank you for your considered comment. I think adversity makes us much more reflective and ultimately more joyful; I suppose life becomes more nuanced when you experience it through different emotional states. I guess that is wisdom!

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