Once the first blossom died, I was only a little worried about the plant. The leaves looked healthy and the other blossoms were full, bright, and fragrant. But this one blossom -- its delicate purple folds drooped toward the ground and slowly browned. I made a note to cut the blossom so the plant would stop spending its energy on nourishing a lost cause. But time kept sliding away and I kept bumping it down the To Do list. A simple fix; grab the scissors, walk into the front yard, snip the dead blossom. But I never got around to it.
Another day I noticed a second and third clutch of pink and purple blossoms were starting to look tired. Still I didn't act. I would walk out to the flower bed and water the plant but I never brought the scissors with me. I watched those two blossoms go the way of the first, which was now dark brown and hanging limply from a drooping green stem. Still the blossom at the front of the plant was a vivid pink, full and round, and the leaves still looked healthy. So I kept it up. Watering the plant, leaving the scissors in the house. Here in our front yard was a plant with mostly dead flowers still held aloft by green stems and strong leaves, and I just kept bringing it water. I could do that.
On the last day I noticed that the last blossom was starting to have that faded look that plagued the others before everything went south. I crouched down in the dirt and saw that at the base of the plant the stems were brown, like sticks, instead of the supple green they once were. Here in our front yard was a plant with mostly dead flowers, supple green stems near the top, dying stems near the bottom. The leaves still looked strong, at least.
So on that day I decided to take the few steps back into the house, find the scissors, bring them back outside, and cut the blossoms, even the one that hadn't died yet. I could clutch the damp, faded pink and completely brown blossoms in one hand now, and it took all of 30 seconds to take care of it. Once I trimmed the old blossoms out I noticed that a satellite stem had grown near the back of the plant, and a small bud was sprouting from it. Still the leaves looked strong.
Such a simple step in this process of tending a plant with lovely bursts of blooms -- a step I had identified weeks ago -- and it took the death of nearly every single blossom before I found it in me to take action. I think about all those wasted days that the plant spent sending energy down green stems to feed blossoms that were never going to make it, that were long past helping anyway.
Now in my front yard is a plant that stands for more than just the Mother's Day gift it was. It's a reminder to cut what's not blooming, to stop tending to lost causes, to remember to send your energy where it's best spent, to check for blooms in unexpected places. And there's hope there, yet. This morning the leaves still stand strong. I can still see glimpses of bright green reaching out toward the sun.