My green-thumbed buddy dropped by with a gift the other day – a ground orchid! The Spathoglottis or ground orchid, is called a terrestrial orchid because unlike epiphitic varieties, it grows in the soil. Now, I already have a ground orchid another friend gifted me some years ago. It was descended from a plant belonging to her grandmother, so it held symbolic significance for her, and therefore for me, entrusted as I was with a plant of such sentimental importance.
Despite its healthy appearance it’s failed to flower this season. Why? The new orchid in its carefully wrapped pot was in full bloom. Although the blooms are slightly different to the one I already have, the flowers are quite lovely: two-toned purple with tear drop marks on the lobellum or lip. I was anxious not to inadvertently place it where it too, might fail to flower.
And place turned out to be the problem with my resident orchid. Position, position, position as real estate salespersons avow! The orchid had flowered faithfully in that very same spot for the last few years. So what had changed?
When I took a long hard look, it was obvious. Neighbouring plants had grown to dominate the space and block the orchid from getting enough sun. Things never remain the same do they? Whether they be plants, gardens, people or society, the normal state of the world is one of flux. Current global and domestic political events attest to that.
For this reason, I decided I can’t rest on my laurels thinking a garden can ever be ‘finished’. It’s actually one of the joys of gardening. To be continually creating, meeting challenges, finding reserves I didn’t know I had to overcome the problems and then having the satisfaction of resolving them, albeit temporarily until the next one arises. To be always testing my mettle.
Conditions for thriving must be just right. Enough sustenance, and of the right kind. Sufficient light in order to flourish, in order to shine. These essential elements are not bestowed to then remain constant. They must be continually reviewed and adjusted to changing conditions.
You thought I was talking about my garden didn’t you? Well, I was, but also in service to a larger idea – life in general, whether in a social or personal form.
Hard won gains have to be defended. If necessary, they might have to be fought for and won all over again.
In my garden that means I may have to bend my back and make a big effort to clear out and prune, to regain balance and plant equity, to give my oppressed plants room to thrive again. Not just survive, but bloom at their very best. The garden as a whole benefits.
It’s no different in a social sense.
The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, [women and children] the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead