It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time.

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– Isaac Asimov

I’m not the sharpest trowel in the tool shed.

It was in the middle of my seventh summer in my home in Sidney, British Columbia that I finally noticed something in my garden. Seven gardening seasons is a significant amount of time to get a feel for one’s garden. One would have hoped I would have solved this particular mystery sooner—but no.

Here’s the scoop:

At the very back of my yard was a shade garden filled with plants that thrive in, well, shade. Although the shade garden was much fuller than it was when I first moved in, you would think from the amount of time, attention and water I had put into that garden, it would be far lusher than it was.

Every spring, I added new plants. I weeded. I watered. I diligently added in a mixture of soil, compost and manure around each plant. As spring turned into summer, I hand-watered each plant every second or third day. I added fertilizer. I watered some more. I pruned. I added more water.

That silly shade garden got more attention than the entire interior of my home!

And yes, the plants were surviving but they weren’t exactly thriving. In fact, they pretty much stayed the same size from year to year.

Then, one evening in year seven, I was, yet again, hand watering each plant and I got to thinking, again, about the possible reasons WHY the soil in the shade garden looked like it belonged in the Sahara instead of a very-well-cared-for shade garden on Vancouver Island.

And it (finally) occurred to me that the source of the shade in my shade garden might well have something to do with the situation. So I did a quick tree count…I had SEVEN massive trees in that shade garden.

So the vast majority of the water I had been trying to give the smaller plants had promptly been sucked away by the extensive root systems of the big trees. Though chagrined it had taken me seven summers to solve this rather obvious mystery, I quickly moved on to figuring out what the heck to DO about it. 

I had five options:


Cut down some, or all, of the big trees (there goes the shade)


Keep the trees but pull up all the shrubs and other plants and replant them in large pots and planters so they won’t be sharing the same soil as the tree roots.


Install some sort of automatic irrigation system that was more water-efficient and less labor-intensive.


Don’t change anything—just keep manually watering the plants all the time.


Sell my home and move.


I mentioned to a friend I was writing a blog about my shade garden revelation because I suspected there may also be some sort of analogy to life lurking in the soil situation…something about how the massive root systems of the big trees are sucking up all the water I was trying to give to the smaller plants…and how this is often people roll, too.

For let’s face it: try as we might sometimes to change something in ourselves or our lives that we know isn’t working, if we don’t first recognize the source—be that another person/people, project, job, habit/s, situation, our own attitude or negative thoughts, etc—sucking the lion’s share of our time and energy (and perhaps money), despite our best efforts, things are NOT going to change.

To this bit of brainstorming, my friend nodded.

“Yes,” she said. “I get where you’re going with that. But there’s a significant difference between the smaller plants in your garden having their water sucked away by the big trees—and a person who is being sucked dry by another person, circumstance, their own negative attitude and so on.”

“The person who is being sucked dry,” she continued, “by whatever seemingly stronger force is allowing that to happen. They may not think they have a choice to make a change—but they always do. It just may not be pretty.”

A few days later, I told my neighbor about how I’d unearthed the mystery of my perpetually dry shade garden.

To which he smiled and asked, “And have you ever wondered, Maryanne, why the cedar bushes between our two backyards are so big?”

I glanced over at the, admittedly rather large, cedar bushes—then back at my neighbor.

“Uh…no,” I said.

And come to think of it, I had NEVER watered those cedars—not once in seven summers.

“My pond had a slow leak for years,” my neighbor explained. “But I finally fixed it last year, so you may have to water those cedar bushes at some point.”

I threw back my head and laughed.

There you have it…no shortage of life lessons to be learned from the old garden.

Here are two:

If you aren’t thriving like you know you could be, take a good look around at what—or who—might be sucking you dry by stealing your precious time or energy. Sometimes the obvious answer is difficult to see. It might also be difficult to admit.

Likewise, if something in you or your life is blossoming beyond reasonable explanation, there just might be a secret source of…irrigation coming from somewhere.



Originally Published on Pink Gazelle



ID: 369924926



The post Sometimes the Most Obvious Explanation Is the Most Difficult to See appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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