Bloom Where You Are Planted

Anyone who gardens knows that it is not an exact science. A new garden in a new location is a particular challenge. You need to learn what works and what doesn’t, the vagaries of the weather, the sun and the inevitable bugs. You can plan and plant and water and still not get your desired results.

It’s kind of like dating someone new; and much like life itself.

We moved into our house right in the middle of the pandemic four years ago. There was certainly enough time to garden; but as with just about everything else, getting the supplies needed was difficult to say the least. Irises are one of my favorite flowers and I managed to find some bulbs, shipped from some 800 miles away. Planted in one location, they never quite seemed to thrive. The next planting season, I relocated them to other parts of the landscape and in the process, as happens sometimes, some of the bulbs were broken.

Our property borders a forest and some conservation land at the top of a hill. We often bring cuttings, leaves and other compostable material to the top to improve the soil there, encouraging plant growth and preventing, hopefully, erosion. We included some of those broken bulbs.

Imagine our surprise when the flower in the picture above appeared up on the hill this spring. Deep purple set against the background of tiny trees, and dirt and whatever else decides to grow there, mostly weeds. It didn’t seem to be the optimal environment for the plant, but there it was.

It was fitting that it was an iris, a flower whose name is derived from the Greek word for rainbow, given the myriad of colors the flowers present. The spiritual meaning of the iris is a bearer of messages and a symbol of deep sentiments. In the language of flowers, it carries meanings of faith, hope and wisdom.

This bloom in an unexpected place reminded me of the dandelions that grew between the cracks of pavement in the city streets where I was raised. Nature is determined and resilient. As humans, in our observation and respect for the natural world, we can learn any number of lessons.

The appearance of this flower on the hill was a reminder. Life has challenges; but we can find a way to grow and thrive in whatever circumstances we are faced with. We can overcome difficulty and find a way to flourish. Great beauty can be discovered in the darkest of spaces.

Like the iris, bloom where you are planted.

susan schirl smith
Susan Schirl Smith is a writer, photographer and holistic nurse based in New Hampshire. Her essays have been published in Cognoscenti, Pangyrus, Silver Birch Press and The Journal of Holistic Nursing. Her photography has been featured in Barren Magazine and L’Ephemere Review. Smith’s current manuscript is Desperado, a memoir of her brother. You can follow Susan on her website or Facebook.

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