If I want to start my day on a positive note, I often turn to my online gardening or rose enthusiast groups. When members aren’t posting pictures of spectacular blooms or jaw-dropping tomatoes, they’re sharing insights about how best to encourage those garden stunners.
I’m not necessarily eager to run out and douse my roses with a homemade concoction of molasses, kelp, powdered fish and apple cider vinegar. And I don’t have nutrient-rich fish tank water to occasionally replace a normal drip cycle. But I’m always fascinated by ideas that push the boundaries of my personal experience.
In fact, it’s only through the wisdom of others that my garden is as prolific as it is. Well, that and my own fearless ignorance when I first began the adventure. There’s nothing like learning from your own mistakes. But the wisdom of others is the corker.
How would my garden look today had I not hightailed it to my trusted nursery for advice when black spot disease showed its ugly face? I didn’t know what was killing my roses, and I lost half a dozen bushes to that dastardly blight before I was able to arrest it.
How many trees on our property might have perished if someone hadn’t finally told us that watering during winter dry spells is critical in the high desert? Coming from the wet Pacific Northwest, we always thought nature took care of itself in the cold season.
Now that I’m a more experienced USDA Zone 7a gardener, friends sometimes ask me for advice. I strive to frame my answers in a way that emphasizes “this is what I do.”
“In my garden, hydrangeas do best in filtered light.”
“Bayer Three-In-One is my go-to fertilizer, but I would consider others.”
“We set our drip system for 20 minutes morning and evening. There are different schools of thought.”
The idea that my way is the only way, or even the best way for anyone but me and mine, isn’t part of my thought process let alone my conversations.
Maybe that’s why I have such a difficult time initiating or joining discussions about the hotly debated topics in our increasingly hostile world. Once in a while I give it a shot, but it usually ends in a resolution never to do it again. Too often these kind of engagements degenerate into no-win contests about who is more wrong about this or that.
Because rarely is anyone indisputably, 100%, no-doubt-about-it right in verbal sparring matches about the best way to cure the world’s ills.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could address these thorny problems the same way my online gardening comrades share their perspectives? Admittedly, on occasion someone comes on a little strong. But, for the most part, members are there to learn from each other and help each other reach their highest potential as guardians of the soil and caretakers of nature’s majesty.
In the end, that’s what we’re all here for – to help each other. Right?