Shamrocks of Success
I’m not much of a gardener. Trowels, soil and seeds don’t show any special love for me. The successes I’ve found are few and many seasons between. I do have one small accomplishment that I joyfully point my green thumb to – my planter box of shamrocks. For three years, these green, tri-leafed plants have managed to survive my care. The same can’t be said for other plants, flowers and living things I’ve over-watered, under-fertilized or didn’t sow in moderate sun.
But not my Shamrocks. Through thick and thin, rain or shine, these emerald gems greet me each morning. The first time I noticed that their leaves fold together at night, I thought, “Oh no! I’ve killed another one.” But these bits of clover fooled me. Bright and early the next day, their leaves pointed toward the morning sun, like faces lifted to the warmth.
My gardening triumph. My Shamrocks.
I relayed my victory, with strains of pride in my voice to Jen, the owner of a neighborhood flower shop. I sought her advice on buying a hearty houseplant when I felt the need to brag a bit about my own green acres. “I grow Shamrocks,” I boasted. “I bought them three St. Patrick’s Days ago and they’re still going strong.” Jen nodded at me, as I relayed my tale of conquest. There was a pitying look on her face
“What’s wrong with Shamrocks?” I finally asked, fearing an answer I didn’t really want to hear.
“Shamrocks,” she counseled, “are weeds. And you have to be careful not to let them get any where near your yard or you’ll have a real mess on your hands.”
Obviously she had no idea that my husband, Nick, and I would be thrilled to have something green growing in our yard – genus weeds or not.
Obviously she had no idea that my husband, Nick, and I would be thrilled to have something green growing in our yard – genus weeds or not. I later learned that oxalis or woods-sorrel pops up everywhere and is often sold as “shamrocks”.
I left her shop with less of a bounce in my walk. My shoulders slumped a bit, weakened by my newfound knowledge of weedology. I looked at my Shamrock-infested flower box that night when I got home. The Shamrocks were no different than they were that morning when I left for work, but my attitude toward them certainly was.
“You’re nothing but weeds,” I lamented, feeling the full strength of my green thumb turning a walnut shade of brown.
I labored in a gardener’s fantasy where I was the Queen, only to find out that my success was, in someone else’s eyes, quite a failure. My grand world of growing lush plants–well one lush plant–had been tarnished. In the span of 60 seconds, less than the time it takes to mist your ferns, my victory was reduced to defeat.
The next day, I sat on my front stoop, staring at my clovers of betrayal. There they sat, happily filling my oblong terra-cotta pot. I felt comfort and satisfaction as I admired their strong stalks. They were thriving and as far as I’m concerned, I was the reason. They might be weeds to Jen, but they’re foliage to me.
That day I learned that success is a point-of-view. It’s subjective.
Now I acknowledge my achievements wherever I find them. And I’ve grown into quite the success detective, observing the little victories that make up every day life.
Success is everywhere, just waiting to be discovered. Some recent triumphs: Losing my Christmas weight. Finding a bargain. Seeing the smile of understanding on my son’s face as he figures out a problem. Being there for a friend. Finding the perfect word. Getting that parking spot in the front row.
Spurred on by my prolific Shamrocks, I seek other greenery conquests. I now grow African violets (after learning that you must set them in a plate of water to allow their roots to soak up the puddle). My rose bushes flourish, nourished with occasional banana skins and fertilizer twice a year. I’ve expanded my gardening scope to include daffodils. Encouraged by the words of a good friend: “They grow anywhere,” I eagerly await the first bloom of the ones I planted last Spring. (I checked: daffodils are flowers, not weeds). I am selective about my horticultural successes. I do try to keep a realistic focus on my gardening aspirations, however. The improved health of my rose garden won’t merit a hybrid tea rose being named Claire’s Delight.
As for my Shamrocks, in year four, they’re still growing strong. They greet me each morning as if to say: “Ah ha, we’ve fooled them again!” To some accomplished gardeners they may be considered a weed, but to me, all I see is a beautiful plant, thriving under my loving care. That’s success.