Choosing My Candidates

I cannot pretend that this day is like any normal Tuesday. It is Election Day 2016! And this year, it cannot have arrived too soon. Yes, I know, I don’t need to explain further.

In seeking to escape the election insanity, I’ve predictably hung around the garden more than usual. Despite the demands of seasonal chores, I’ve spent time pondering over my own opinions, biases and beliefs. What conclusion I’ve arrived at explains much about how I generally operate. It appears that the criteria by which I select plants to include in my garden is pretty much how I vote in the elections. Let me explain what I look for.

Form and function. A plant must look appealing. That does not necessarily mean that it’s flowers be gorgeous. In fact, the blooms might be insignificant but other parts have attractive properties such as foliage shapes and color. From lamb’s ears to sanguisorbas to maple trees, I covet them for the beauty of their leaves. Similarly, the stems of the plant might be striking. Like the dogwood shrub ‘Red Twig’ in winter. Or the deep burgundy stems of penstemon ‘Husker Red’. The general shape, how it holds itself and what it brings to the overall appearance of a garden bears consideration. If it has stunning flowers to boot, well then, that is even better. Along with the form, function is equally relevant. Either the plant provides food for humans or supports the local fauna. If not food, perhaps the plants brings perfume to the garden and home. In other words, I need more than superficial traits.

Maintenance. No picky, fussy plants. I have neither the time, tolerance or interest in high maintenance applicants.

Cohesiveness. Plants in a bed must work together. While certain plants take center stage and others have supporting roles, all together they should grow well and let each one thrive. No bullies or thugs allowed. Ever.

Reciprocity or living up to expectations. When I select a plant, I am accepting my responsibility to give it the attention and care it requires. In other words, I’m prepared to do my duty. In return, I expect the plant to do its job well. To respond appropriately to the conditions provided and thrive. When we each understand and accept our roles, it benefits not only each of us but the entire garden. This covenant is sacred.
The corollary to this is that should either one of us fail to fulfill our promise, then the relationship is terminated. This arrangement is implicit.

Authenticity. A plant selected for it’s unique or specific qualities must run true to them. Or else, eviction notice is given. Veracity and trust are the cornerstones of a relationship.

Sense of humor. I know you’re wondering how a plant could possibly have that trait. When a plant does not take itself too seriously, it gets on well with its neighbors. When a rose permits a promiscuous clematis to use it for support, a beautiful friendship develops. When columbines playfully self-seed, they bring a certain relaxed quality to the garden and I appreciate that jokey reminder to ease up some. Nobody appreciates control freaks.

So there you have it. See how these specifications can serve well in the polling booth? Now, go forth and vote!

The images below have nothing to do with the elections. I just love their seasonality:

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(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

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