Dappled Things



There’s that famous poem”Glory be to God for dappled things”.  ( Gerard Manley Hopkins) And here’s a dappled thing that came out to bloom through sheer refusal on my part to give up.  I have somehow acquired five orchid plants.  People gave them to me over the years or I carried them home from hospital rooms at the request of patients ( one certain patient it was).  Orchid flowers last a long time but finally they give up and lose their wonderful shape and become like limp butterflies and then the flowers are dead.  But the plant is still alive.  I suppose in the greenhouses where they are grown for florists they are staked up and misted regularly and almost manufactured if a living thing can be manufactured….and we know that it can be.

In the house though the plant is at my fickle, my dappled mercy.  Sometimes I forget to mist with the little pink bottle that is just for orchids.  Sometimes I put them out in the bright spring light and the strong sun burns a leaf.  Orchids want shade but light..as people want privacy but attention too.  I never manage to stake them up properly so the flowering stems jut out at an angle.  I can hardly tell which stems will turn into air roots and which into flowering branches.

It takes tenacity, persistence, faith that the bloom will come.  As a gardener I have that hanging-in instinct.  Of course the orchids are never quite as lush as the ones fresh bought from the shop but the blossoms I coax out are all the more precious.  They bloom because I don’t give up on them.  No fertilizer, no special lights, no method.  Just paying attention and caring.  Even when I let the sun burn a leaf, I nurse the plant and refuse to throw it out.

Patience, tenacity, faith……..virtues in gardening ….at least.

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