I have a friend who politely requested me to take care of his plants while he went out of the country for a month. His house plants were now straining his relationship with an otherwise great woman. He had returned to withered plants on more than one occasion and decided to he was not going to take any more chances. His wife was a serial plant killer. Fruit went bad under her watch. She possessed no affinity with any vegetable outside a bowl of salad. The only green stuff she grew was in the fridge.
Fortunately, I know a thing or two about caring for plants and gladly agreed to watch over his green mates. I have farmed with marginal success and can tell the difference between beans and kunde vegetables at first glance. I consider a panga, a garden tool, not a weapon. In the rural areas, farming and caring for plants is a basic skill. About as basic as making tea. However, in the city where we talk to concrete walls, gardening is a poor man’s vocation and associated with hard labour. In many Kenyan schools, digging up tree stumps was popular punishment and that experience has since left many traumatised by the mere sight of hoe.Therefore in these digital times, the ability to keep a potted plant alive must not be taken for granted.
But we need plants our lives because they remind us to stay alive. Plants communicate their needs in very subtle ways and respond to attention. Which must be why I find so many correlations between gardening and relationships. Plants are like people in relationships who keep changing. Stay present to the changes in your partner if you never want to be caught saying, “He just changed overnight”. Plants teach us to cultivate compassion in our lives as well that deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the desire to relieve it.
Indoor plants keep us awake to the distractions of our hectic modern lifestyles. Watering a plant regularly is a metaphor that sustains healthy relationships. Adding fertilizer is going the extra mile and we reap what we sow but often after trial and error. The constant gardener weeds out bad influences and the unwanted things in ones’ life, one weed at a time. A relationship is a plant of slow growth. Cultivate the garden within by paying constant attention and savour the delightful fruits of your labour.