Optimism is a word that makes me choke a little. It is not my default position. As the great, late Dame Edna espoused ‘Hope for the best, expect the worst and take what comes’.
But if you are a gardener you have to be optimistic. As Wikipedia defines it ‘Optimism is an attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable.’
And every gardener has that sense of optimism when they sow a seed, plant a tree or take a cutting.
So some rash plantings in this garden have been sustained by a healthy dose of optimism. One of the most ridiculous plantings I made, about three years ago, was an embothrium – Chilean firebush. This glorious tree has pale green leaves that show off the scarlet, tubular flowers perfectly. It is one of the many South American plants that thrive in Irish gardens but, being in Proteaceae and hating high levels of phosphorus in the soil, I was taking a gamble. Advice on how to grow it is often conflicting and I was hesitant, but spent as much as I could afford on a small plant and put it where I thought it might grow. It had other ideas and it slowly died.
But you must persevere with plants and try at least three times. So last spring I planted another. This time I did not lose as much sleep over selecting the spot and it went into a bed near a lilac and a rose. It needed watering last summer in the hot, dry weather but it looked healthy. It withstood winter and a month ago it showed signs of flower buds. It is not quite open but…
Of course, it needs to make growth as well as flowers but it is looking promising. I think the only reason it is growing is because I didn’t think about where I put it and it is beside a pink rose and lilac lilac! Hardly perfect colour association but, ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!’ I have a live embothrium!
You need optimism when growing fruit too. The weather was wet and cold, and even frosty when the plums were in bloom but they have set some fruit. I am ashamed to say that I go and check them every day to see if the tiny, green pinheads are dropping off but so far they seem to have set.
Most of the apples are now in full flower too and there should be a good crop if the weather is not too wet. I am optimistic, but I am almost happy enough just to see the lovely blossom.
You need to be optimistic when you grow hostas too. Will they grow to perfection or will they get doilyfied by slugs? So far things are not too bad, but not without some effort on my part.
Please note, I am not being over-optimistic. I don’t intend the next post to be titled ‘Hubris’.
Yes, we always live in hope that things in the garden will turn out well.