Knee Jerk Reactions

By Gardennia nutii
I had an experience last week which is applicable to many avenues in life. When telling a friend about my new puppy arrival she stated obstinately that she “didn’t like” that breed and ended the discussion before I could tell her all the cute things about him. I’m a dog lover by nature, and while I haven’t owned even a fraction of the dog breeds, I know that there are good and bad “apples” in every batch and dogs of all breeds are awesome if they are provided the correct environment. Some may be better suited to their owners depending on size and other characteristics, but in general, dogs are great.

This experience got me thinking about plants (as most things do). There are several plants to which I’ve had negative knee jerk reactions, but once my mind opened up, I have come to appreciate them in my yard.

First example: rhododendrons. At my old house, I had some very overgrown, poorly shaped and misplaced rhododendrons. Every year, I lost the battle to improve them and my taste for the plant soured. When I moved to my current home, my first reaction to several rhododendrons was “rip them out!” Well…I didn’t get around to ripping them out, and for this I’m glad because after seeing them in context for a few years, I decided that only two were in opposition of the overall setting I was trying to create. The rest, given some care, are now playing a vital role in my yard.

The second example: juniper. There was one house on the street where I grew up that had a basketball hoop, All the kids would gather there at least once a week to play ball. Invariably, the basketball would end up in the huge patch of junipers and we all suffered scratches and bruises as the result of fetching the ball from that patch. So when I inherited two huge junipers at my current house, my initial reaction was “rip them out!” But as you have guessed by now, I didn’t get around to it and have come to love the juniper variety in my yard. I haven’t yet identified the exact cultivar, but these small trees are graceful, airy, and add a beautiful year round backdrop for my other plants.

Let this be a lesson to all of us: open our minds and reap the rewards. Whether it is plants, pets, or politicians, we’d be best served to keep an even head and understand fully what opportunities are in front of us.

Do you have a “knee jerk reaction” plant you’ve come to love? Let us know!