natural riddles

What is it about a plant that determines whether it will live or die? Is it the quality of the seed? Is it the way the roots freely find their way through the soil to take hold? Is it the mix of nutrients that nourish and sustain it with energy? Is it exposure to the elements? Is it the loving care or neglect it receives? Is it all of these things? Is it a combination of things or no reason in particular? Or is nature totally random?

Why do some plants take root and flourish while others simply wither and die? In the plant world, everything competes for light and energy. But what if those are in abundance yet the plant still fails to thrive?

Gardening is one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve always enjoyed it, but I immersed myself into it two years ago when our angel boy died. Along with writing, I think it saved me. It got me outside breathing fresh air. It got my hands dirty. It was grounding. It gave me something productive to do, something (living) to nurture, something to look forward to.

Since our last failed cycle, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside. I’ve been admiring the new growth of spring — the beauty of plentiful wildflowers such as purple lupines and orange poppies sprouting up everywhere. Reminding me of the simple beautiful things in life to behold. Reminding me that life goes on, with or without a child. Inhaling the intoxicating scent of wisteria in full bloom reminds me to stop and experience wonder, to feed my spirit in whatever way I may find. 

When I was preparing for my FET, I went digging outside trying to cultivate fertility. Since then, I’ve been planting a small bounty for summer in our tiny little patch out back — heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatillos, strawberries, and plenty of herbs (mint, basil, oregano, rosemary). We don’t have much space and much is in containers, but they grow — most of the time anyway.

Every once in a while, though, a plant fails to thrive and dies. Sometimes I know exactly why — too much water, not enough, too much competition for space or sun, etc. But sometimes it’s a total mystery. Was it just a dud seed? Did it simply fail to take root? Was the soil not the right mix? The spread of disease? Why does a perfectly normal sprouting seed start suddenly cease to thrive? 

You can see the parallels to embryology too, yes? A perfect looking embryo is deposited in hopefully fertile lining, and then you wait for it to take root, grow and thrive until it bursts with life. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. Sometimes you might need a little help, some “artificial” fertilizer (meds) or assisted technology to get there.

I’ve never had recurrent miscarriage — our seeds just never sprouted and thrived. My problem has mostly been conception and implantation due to a combination of issues. But the seemingly arbitrary distinctions between success and failure in nature makes me wonder about the random nature of infertility. 

So some of my basil has already crashed and burned and I don’t know why. I can live with that. I can just plant some more, no problem. I only wish solving all of nature’s riddles were that simple. 


~ by luna on April 16, 2008.

15 Responses to “natural riddles”

  1. If only the answers came as easily as the questions.


  2. Since moving here, I’m also very interested in gardening, and spent a lot of time outside last year trying to resurrect some flower beds. And I too don’t quite get it; how that f’king neglected mint that some former owner planted can go haywire and leave me pulling 5′ roots out of a bed (don’t want to choke the begonias!), whereas the lilac that I’m treating with kid gloves seems to be going nowhere. What I really find depressing is the occasional tulip or other flower that buds, but then never flowers — reminds of a . . . . well, you know.

  3. I’m glad your garden is giving you peace, and maybe even a measure of hope. There is something so *right* about putting your hands in the warm soil, mixing in the nutrients, and making beautiful things grow. And even though the parallels to my own struggle have always been in my mind while I garden, I never find that the metaphor taunts me or hurts me. It just reminds me that you can’t control everything. Nature just is.

    I’ve been thinking about you every day, Luna. I hope that you are finding solace and comfort from your loved ones, and that your beautiful flowers are helping you begin the long process of healing your soul.

  4. It’s a good question without an answer as far as I know. But couldn’t we solve so much heartache if we discovered the reason?

  5. I get all weird and superstitious with the garden. If something fails to grow and I’ve been putting a lot of effort I feel upset. I wonder why I can’t grow a *bleeping* plant! Odd.
    The flowers in your garden are so beautiful.

  6. I was a gardening maniac right after our IVFs didn’t succeed. I needed to know I could nurture and grow SOMETHING. Very apt analogy …

  7. Beautiful pictures, Luna! I could nearly smell them.

  8. I love this post! And the photos — what a treat. Thank you.

    If we ever get out of this city, the first thing I want to do is plant a garden.

  9. Amen. To everything you said.

  10. I kill all houseplants but I do pretty well outdoors. I wonder if that means anything in particular?

    Love your photos as always.

  11. I’m glad you’re finding some consolation, however momentary, in tending your garden.

    I’ve pretty much given up trying to grow basil outdoors – summers in the north of England are too cold and wet. It appears to do better inside, on a sunny windowsill.

    Take care of yourself, lovely Luna. You’re very much in my thoughts.

  12. Everyone knows I can’t grow plants. I love planting flowers and herbs on my patio. It used to be a joke with my friends, I even managed to kill a cactus I got as a gift. The only plants that haven’t managed to kill are jade plants; when they wilt, I water them and occasionally I get a lily. They don’t really thrive though, they just kind of exist. People have given me offshoots that they swear are hardy and will grow, but as soon as I get them they fail to thrive and I end up throwing them out. As you can tell, this really used to bug me, I was convinced that if I could get a plant to thrive, then maybe I could somehow magically transfer this gift to my forlorn uterus. Nope. But I still enjoy digging in my flower boxes, hoping one day to find the perfect flower that will survive the conditions of my patio. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

  13. These flowers are so beautiful! I have so many indoor plants it’s becoming a jungle in here. I am now about to do all my outside gardening! I think you have to do whatever helps you cope and I hope you find some peace.

  14. Gardening is really healing. I’ve been wishing and wishing that we had some outside space this spring, but no such luck with our current apartment. I think I’ll live vicariously through you, if you don’t mind?

  15. Just before they bloom, mine die. I think I’d rather they just never took root.

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