Back in the spring, I realised a geum I’d planted last summer wasn’t in the right spot – it was going to be swamped by a fast-growing shrub rose and hidden from view. The geum was already in flower, and looking incredible with its papery apricot-coloured blooms, despite the fact that its thorny neighbour was looming over it like a thug.
To that geum, Spring 2020 was just like any other spring. Business as usual. As the chill of winter started to lift, it poked its head above ground and got ready for the season ahead.
Unbeknownst to the geum, I was planning a plot twist. I decided I’d better move it before the rose got any bigger. So rudely, and without invitation, I wrenched that beautiful plant from its comfort, dug a new hole and replanted it.
That beautiful, flourishing geum needed to move to a new place to protect it from what was coming. No matter how settled it felt in its familiar spot, that plant needed a sudden change for its own good. (Sound relatable?)
So, plant moved, job done, sit back and enjoy the floral display, right? Wrong.
The thing is, when you move a plant, you essentially give it a massive shock. The fact it was only moved about half a metre away from its original spot, not somewhere unfamiliar, didn’t matter – it was still ripped out of its comfort zone and expected to suddenly adjust to a new location. (I’m definitely relating to this now. Anyone with me?)
Prior to me rocking up, trowel in hand, my geum was happily doing its thing, using the root system it had established both to feel secure and to draw up vital water and nutrients. Moving the plant suddenly meant all that it was relying on had been damaged and disturbed.
It still had a root system there after being moved, but it needed to work hard on re-establishing it – some minor roots were left behind; some major roots were damaged. The wounds were all there, but not visible now the plant was back in the ground. Just like us, shut away in our homes and trying to make that adjustment with many of our normal support networks cut off or impaired.
To ensure the relocated plant survives, you obviously have to give it the essentials – soil, plant food and plenty of water. Our equivalents in lockdown were limited to those bare essentials too – groceries, one walk or run a day, a roof over our heads and the basic tech to do our jobs.
However, when you move a plant, there’s one more thing you’ve got to do to give it a fighting chance to survive (and later thrive): you have to remove every single bloom. You take shears, and you deliberately cut off the crowning beauty of the plant. This is a vital part of the process, because it enables the plant to power energy into re-establishing its root system. Although the roots are the hidden parts of the plant, they’re its main source of sustenance. What ‘hidden’ things sustain me? Am I doing all I can for my physical and mental health, self care, good sleep and, crucially, my relationship with God?
You may have given yourself slack for adjusting to the initial shock of entering lockdown, but I want to encourage you that it’s OK for you to still feel unsettled, for you to feel like the sweet-scented beauty of your life hasn’t come back as quickly as it disappeared.
The biggest lesson a garden teaches you is the art of waiting – the power and beauty of time.
Cutting the flowers off my plant was an event, but regrowing them was a process. The blooms on my geum returned this summer, but I had to watch closely and stay patient. You too will bloom again, God promises us all that, but your root system needs to be your focus for now.
If you’d like a longer read that explains the physical and emotional impact we’re all navigating (and some strategies to help), this is an excellent article.
Brand Communications Manager
Serving at CAP since 2005 to give a voice to those who are going unheard. Driven by justice and a desire to potter in the garden. Claire has worked in Communications for 15 years and, during that time, has overseen all areas of the department’s work. Her role now sees her leading our Brand Strategy and PR teams, working to craft CAP’s brand and personality across our many audiences.