I like to think that encouragement and praise is the best method for inspiring productivity but must admit that threats and criticism can be pretty effective as well. Spite is such an excellent motivator. Don’t we love to prove someone wrong? – I had a mean as spit English teacher who made it clear that he thought no one in my class could string two words together. I sweated blood to write the finest term paper there ever was and didn’t he have to give me an A? I sure showed him! I think plants sometimes need the same kind of kick in the pants. All of the roses in the Rose Garden that we threatened with expulsion have never looked better than they do right now. It’s just like last year when Gail and I talked about taking out the moldy phlox in the North Garden and every clump immediately cleaned itself off and rebloomed fit to burst. Of course we still took most of it out… But I can just hear these roses saying “you don’t think I’m pretty? I’ll show you pretty.” And even the blue woodruff that looked like slackers when we planted them perked right up as if they heard us say “We’ll just rip them out if they don’t perk right up”.
The roses we always praise to the skies have never looked better either. It seems like they’re basking in the glow of it like we all do when someone says something nice. They’re totally blushing with pride. I really truly honestly think that plants respond and react to us in a way that seems totally impossible for anything without ears and a brain but I also have to confess that we have physically treated the roses a little differently this year.
We fertilized them earlier than ever (we fertilized them period, full stop!) – right when the experts say we should in April as the buds were swelling – with a slow release organic 3-5-3. We’ve also had a rainy spring into summer, which I guess Gail and I shouldn’t take any credit for, with the magic number of hot sunny days to coax any flower into rapturous bloom. We are being good and sticking to our fertilizing schedule and gave them another round of the same stuff this past Monday as they came into their first bloom. We’ll fertilize again in August right before their next big push. (In case you’re curious, the fertilizer we’ve chosen to use in most of the gardens is Espoma Bulb-Tone because it has the NPK ratio we were looking for plus additional micro nutrients.) We still refuse to use sprays – fungicides or pesticides – and are considering ourselves very lucky that the garden is not infested with the tiny worms that are skeletonizing roses in other parts of the state. We’re also crossing our fingers that the Japanese beetles and black spot won’t be bad this year.
Do you let your plants know when you think they’re doing a great job – and when you’re fed up to here with their behavior? Do you think they listen?