I’m not the sort of person to endure broken things or to limp along. I will fix it. Or change it.

Other people do not share my point of view. They NEED their problem.  When I fix things for them, I am making their life more difficult. Now they have to go out and find another problem.

For those folks, being a ‘fixer’ isn’t being helpful, it’s being a ‘buttinsky!’ I get one life to work through and you get one life to work through. 

If there is no blood or smoke, I should get out of your way and let you choose. You can have the problem or the solution. Your ‘fix’ may be different from mine. I  will let you have a chance to show your creative stuff.  It is enough to soothe your scratches and scrapes. Your character and talents show very well.

You may be thinking I should fix more for you, but a little struggle makes you stronger.  You’ll be closer to what you were born to be in that strength.

Experimental Learning Places with the Garden

My garden is my experimental laboratory for problem-solving. Cosseting some tender plants (annuals) is my privilege. And responsibility if I choose to have them in a harsh environment. I’m responsible to provide proper water, food, and location for that plant. Good conditions and protection are MY problems, not the plant’s.  We both have limited expectations.  I will provide water and feed. The plant can produce cuttings and seeds for another season.  We do work together. BUT, the first responsibility lies with me. I can offer extremes with too much or too little.

I’ve drowned and burned a few plants over the years. I’ve seen them recover when drooping in neglect.  The recovered plants are stronger and produce better cuttings and seeds. That neglectful stress brings out their fighting spirit. If the old woman kills this plant, there will be some in the future.

When the Plants Talk Back

As a firm believer in talking to my plants, I find that they talk back. No, they don’t speak English. They use a ‘behavioral language.’  Sort of like people celebrating.  Or pouting. The bushy babies claim problems that I will not solve for them. At The Legacy Gardens blog, I shared these experiences with the lilac bushes. These lovely shrubs are definitely communicators. Some of my favorites!

Trees and shrubs are chatterboxes in my yards.  Lots of leaves, flowers, and seeds speak out when things are good for them.  The weather is their greatest stimulus. For example, too much rain will send the lilacs into a time of floral silence!  Some need some extreme cold in winter.

Lilac Expressions

I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me. My lilacs had to speak for themselves. The littlest white is in a waterway. It has always struggled.  Two years of wet through all seasons shut down the flowers this year, not for the first time. Rain-caused silence wasn’t a surprise this time. Before, I thought some super cold weather nixed my favorite flowers.

A closer look, there were NO flowers there to freeze.  How sad. We have nine blooming lilac bushes in our yard. Their lovely white and lavender (lilac) flowers offer a heady scent for a few weeks in the spring.

Problem solving for the garden

They had few 2020 flowers with little scent. They say that is because I wasn’t paying attention. Yes, my distraction was an issue.  No, they didn’t smell as strong as they have in the past. There weren’t as many flowers. The lilacs spoke too softly!

When the Rains Didn’t Come

After so many months of wet mild weather, the rains STOPPED.  Lilac leaves MORE than drooped. They became crisp, then were dropping. I thought the bushes might die. And I couldn’t change it. I wasn’t home much of the time.  Exhaustion ruled when I was here.  Moving to another place meant that the lilacs and I were breaking up. Their demands for water went unanswered. I’m not going to impulsively fix things for them. Even if I weren’t leaving them, responding with an impulsive fix-it action would not be good for the plant’s future.

I’m learning, through my garden, to use restraint for quick fixes!

Why Not Solve The Lilac Problems

For all practical purposes, I am the MOM in the old woman/shrub relationship. I have a responsibility to make sound, careful decisions, and not knuckle under to radical demands. Our history together has proved that these lovely shrubs need to ‘suffer.’.   A time of great thirst stimulates them. They will produce plenty of overpowering sweet-scented flowers next summer. Then, the new people here will fall deeper in love with them.

The lilac bushes talked back! Their language was clear. They were in danger. The leaves curled, turned brown, and dropped. Road dust gathered on branches and leaves. Those bushes looked so tough to one exhausted gardener.

I am humbled by their determination. A tiny shower changed everything. Raindrops measured into a  ‘ten-incher’ (one drop every 10 inches.)

Every lilac bush perked up and said, “I will live.”  Nature and a big truck pruned the bush at the East end of the row.  She was more determined to survive than any others. Breaking out with a full top of September blooms (reblooming), she ‘showed off’ for us. Never mind the few dead branches awaiting the next owner’s lopper.

They Had The Drive to Live for Another Day (And Mom does know best)

These lilacs had made pleas and demands for different care. As their ‘parent’, I know they need the drought. Maybe not quite as much as they had in 2020, but they do need at least one dry month. They also need a few days with ZERO and below on the winter thermometer. Rushing to solve their problem would not benefit them.

Promises for the Future

She?  All of my lilac bushes are girls, some more ladylike than others.  The mother bush thriving near the back door is definitely feminine and fertile.  Mamma Lilac has spawned several seed babies over the years. Not suckers…they all do suckers near the roots.  These are little baby lilacs rollicking around at a distance from the mother tree.

The drought tried to get the best of these bushes and failed. Lilacs are both beautiful and tough. When wandering the lawns at the next house, I found a sturdy lilac bush.  While closing down for the long winters of the plains, the bush promises joyful flowers in 2021!

Do You Agonize Over the Choices You Face

Those choices may be unpopular with colleagues. Sometimes the problem-holder grouses, but benefits from my holding back on fix-it solutions. Plants and kids have taught me a lot over the years. My pet comment has become “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Then, sometimes I do.