Blooming in the Face of Adversity

The rose you see depicted in the photograph above is “La France”. She was the first to be classified as a Hybrid Tea in 1867, which to the gardener of today, puts her in a group of roses known as heirlooms.

This rose has significance to me because she is the last one left in my rose bed. Over the past year, I lost three roses, including an English rose bush which was more than 20 years old. Despite my best efforts to keep up, weeds, especially a pernicious creeper known as purple bindweed took over my bed in the past two years. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of that stuff is by spraying it, since it puts down deep roots which make it impossible to pull it. It ended up smothering the roses I lost, and I believe the poor things were ultimately sacrificed in the effort to remove the invader.

The bindweed never quite made it to La France, at the back of the bed. That doesn’t mean she did not have her own issue with weeds, but she did have one advantage over the other roses. The specimen I have is known as a climbing sport, and she can grow taller than our backyard fence. Though she was surrounded by a mess, she mostly stayed above it. Even though roses really don’t like to be crowded around their feet, the poor thing started blooming in January; not an unusual occurrence here in southeast Texas during a mild winter. Since she is in the bed which is becoming my butterfly garden, I can easily see her every time I look out the kitchen window. She seemed to be saying, “Look, I’m still here. I’m still blooming, in less than ideal circumstances. If you love me, won’t you take the time to come care for me?”

It is always during times of adversity, that we are forced to step back and take a closer look at what really matters to us. Truthfully, adversity never goes away. Modern society, with all its distractions, simply finds it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist; until it rises up to smack us in the face. Most of the time, even though the TV is often on in the family room next to the kitchen, I still find myself looking out the window while doing the dishes. Every time I saw that rose, I experienced deep shame. Because nothing was stopping me from clearing out the bed and pruning dead canes from La France, other than simply making time for it.

I don’t remember what year I planted her, but it could be more ten years ago. Meaning, like the maple up front, she has survived less than ideal conditions. A drought, 2 hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, 110° Texas summers, two snow events during the winter following Hurricane Harvey… After all that, how could I possibly allow her to slowly die from neglect? To prevent the inevitable from happening, I had to give myself a kick in the mental patookus and go put on my big girl gardener pants.

The work paid off. I no longer feel guilty when I look out my window. Other than my butterfly plant, La France still has that bed to herself at the moment, making her the obvious center of attention. Once the bed is filled with my butterfly plants, she will still be the queen. If I continue to give her attention, such as deadheading the spent flowers, she will bloom until the weather gets too hot. Even then, she occasionally produces sporadic flowers, meaning she will keep rewarding me for my efforts, as long as I don’t give up on her.

Perhaps because we have been living daily with adversity in our household for many years now; I don’t allow situations, like the current one being caused by Covid-19, to cause much excitement around here. Like everyone else, it is causing us a bit of inconvenience, but we always live in a state of preparedness. Our motto is, “One day at a time, and what is the best use of my time today?”

The best advice I have for those who are suddenly worrying about their futures, is to step back and take a look at the things you have put off, due to a perceived lack of time. Worrying is nothing more than an unproductive, dead-end road. If you’re not going to work, or the kids aren’t in school for a while, take advantage of the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and take control where it really matters; in your own home. At the end of the day, shut out the world for a while and spend some real quality time with each other.

Quote of the Week

When the end of a life arrives, it is the rare person who looks back and regrets nurturing the relationships, which gifted them with the most beautiful blossoms.

Kristal DeJong

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