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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can see the lovely tones here in the top flower, with the leaves curling around, cradling, a premature flower.
Look at the gorgeous plum tones of the flower which is about to hatch!
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.
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.
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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