what I’m thinking about when I’m gardening

Who knew when I moved into my apartment last year, I would actually make use of the balcony through gardening? Taking care of plants was the least of my concerns, or interests, and I’m not an expert but at least I am able to grow some (and kill some). Gardening has also offered reflections on life, the same way that travelling did as I previously wrote.


There’s no such thing as green or black thumb. Only an understanding of plants, or lack of it. The same thing can be applied to other things in life.

God knows how many plants I have killed, including cacti, which are supposedly easy to take care of. But that’s it. We assume understanding of a lot of things in life, including people–our friends, family, colleagues; our job, pets, why certain things happen, and yes, that cactus we bought from the greenhouse and thought we’d be able to grow without trouble, and without paying proper attention. When things go wrong, for example, the cactus dies or we lose our job or have misunderstanding with someone we care for, it’s easy to blame external factors. It was the cactus’ fault. It was our colleague’s fault. It was our friend’s fault. We fail to look inwards or find the root of the problem. Was the cactus being watered properly (water only the soil, not the body)? Did I follow the office procedures? Did I offend that friend? At least when it comes to plants, there’s always Google. But interpersonal relationships cannot be explained by books, and would require better understanding of one another and not just assuming things on your own. And only then can there be growth.


Even a small bud rising from the soil evokes so much hope. Even a little thing could matter a lot.

I have come to fully appreciate this as I wait for a new plant to grow new leaves or take root. Just a small shoot would make my day and give me relief that, at least, I did not murder a living thing today. In life, simple things count a lot. Asking a friend who’s going through something how she’s doing, for example. Or helping a grandma with her grocery bags up or down the stairs. Or even just returning the security guard’s perfunctory greeting of “good morning.” We never know what others are going through and a simple gesture could give them hope.


Plants grow beyond their borders. We should too.

I have plants that grow over their pots and spread their branches and leaves along the side and to the ground. They’re very pretty to look at that I often spend time admiring them in the morning. If plants are not scared to grow outside their borders and instinctively follow the rays of the sun or where their roots could grow, so should we.


A little sunshine, water and love go a long way. But it requires effort.

They say, talk to your plants. I find it creepy so I just talk to them in my head. I make sure that those that need sun are in the line of rays in the morning when the sun from the east hits the balcony, and water them according to their preference. (Succulents like thorough watering once a week, herbs such as rosemary like lots of sun and lots of water every day.) There are days that I’m rushing for work and barely have time to water them, but the thought of them dying under the hot sun and giving me nightmares at night for murdering them scares me. It does take a lot of effort to take care of something, including plants. But once you undertake that, you also assume the responsibilities attached to it.

But too much sunshine, water… and love could kill you.

Too much of anything could kill. When I first took care of succulents, I realized that they don’t like water every day nor do they want their bodies (leaves) to get wet. This is how I’ve killed cacti too. Now I’m trying to figure out if one of my jade plants has been having too much fun under the sun that’s why its leaves are falling off the branches. Gardening is trying to balance everything, just like life.


Sometimes, plants just die no matter how much you’ve taken cared of them because that’s the only extent of their lives. Same with everything.

Herbs like rosemary have a life span. I’ve cut off the branches from my two plants, hopefully, to give way for new ones; otherwise, they’d all be dried, ugly brown leaves that would serve no purpose. Maybe they will die because that’s the only extent they could go. One needs the will to live after all. My maternal grandfather’s wish was to die ahead of my grandma because he did not know how he’d live without her. He was a few years younger too but he got his wish, my grandma sending him off at the burial grounds with a heavy sigh. Everything has its beginning and end, including our lives. We could only wish that we have served our purpose once we reach the end, like a branch of rosemary being turned into dried herb for the pizza or baked chicken. Some plants, like the century plant or some yucca or bamboo, produce blooms then die. What a grand way to go.


A plant well grown is lovely to look at. A life well lived is lovely to think of.

Just like what it says on my plant pot:

Le soleil briller et le ciel bleu quo ouvert

The sun shines and the blue sky opens.

And so we live.

© Orange Jasmine Purple Yam (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in this site without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.

3 thoughts on “what I’m thinking about when I’m gardening

  1. Hello! I’ve been a silent reader for some time now, but after reading your posts I just HAVE to say this: I LOVE your writing voice! At first, I was here for the Arashi-related posts, but quickly become a fan of your other write-ups, too, and I now love reading everything you put out! Please, please, please don’t stop writing!


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