I’ve had a gardenia plant for a couple of years now, keeping it in a terra cotta pot that I was certain was the adequate size without it becoming root bound. I’ve carefully brought it inside to keep it safe from the Canadian winter, and outside in the spring, where it always turns brown and drops its leaves until it re-acclimates to it’s party sunny spot. It struggles. Never flowers. And yet I cared for it as best as I could, remembering to mix up some Miracle Gro every now and trying my best to nurse it back to health after I’d forgotten it on a hot day and the soil had dried out… again. It never seemed to grow a smidge, but I kept it in hopes that one day it would somehow finally be happy. Sadly, this never came to pass and it just sat there… Stunted.
I did this because I know what a gardenia can be. It bears glossy, dark green leaves and creamy white flowers with the most heavenly of fragrances – reminding me of the kind of sunny, humid places, with warm breezes and flower bearing trees that make me want to live there forever… *sigh* It’s the most popular flower in bridal bouquets and tucks beautifully behind the ears of pretty Hawaiian wahines. I was determined.
Then, two days ago I decided that I would transplant it into a large pot that sat vacantly on my patio, full of soil and just patiently waiting to recieve. I took it out of its pot – still with a lot of room for growing – and planted it in the big vessel. I was right that it was not root bound at all, and I felt validated that I had done all I could.
All of a sudden the most amazing thing happened! Within two days, my sad little gardenia plant perked up. Tender, bright little green leaves sprouted on the woody branches, and it is beginning to flourish. It looks so perfect with all that space, as though it was supposed to be there all along, like it will steadily grow into the beautiful shrub it was always destined to be.
Funny, I was certain that the small pot was all it ever needed, but when it was given a nice big pot, it took a giant drink and began spreading its roots. I can almost hear it let out a sigh of relief as it settles in happily into its new home. Placing it in the best possible environment, providing it with a place to grow, to breathe, to expand, to live up to its full God-given potential without constraints, was exactly the formula for success.
It needed room. Plain and simple. With fresh soil containing the moisture nutrients and space it was craving, it is flourishing. Now I know that in a few short months, I will be rewarded with and a thriving shrub that will be laden with breathtaking blooms exuding the heady fragrance I have been dreaming about.
Isn’t that what we all need? It makes me think about what a perfect metaphor this is for all of us. Who are we trying to control in an environment that does not match up to their needs? Who is not giving us room to grow and blossom into what we are meant to be? Sometimes it is others who we allow to do this to us. Sometimes we do it to ourselves, and we are so confined in our little pots that we don’t even recognize the fresh start we have right before our eyes…
Summer is almost here. Maybe it’s simply time for a bigger pot.