by James D. Witmer
My wife loves plants. I love beautiful places that encourage a restful spirit (which for me engenders creativity). The result is that we both love gardening, and I have come to appreciate the variety and general niftyness of the plant world.
Caring for plants can also open our eyes to larger truths. For example: After thinking over the friendships I’ve been blessed with, I’ve concluded that people are what gardeners call “part-shade/part-sun” plants.
As you may know, a full-sun plant does best when stuck out to fend for itself, soaking up the sun with no shade, protective or otherwise. (Think daises in a field.)
A full-shade plant cannot ever be challenged by direct sunlight, or it withers. It needs a constant covering, and lots of water. (If you’re familiar with hostas, you know what this looks like.)
Part-shade/part-sun plants need protection from the sun’s most brutal rays. But they also need something to reach for – they need sunlight overhead to become strong and healthy. They do best growing in dappled shade, near, but not beneath, older and larger plants.
We, like they, need the help of more mature friends – people who have survived our current stage of life. But we don’t thrive if our every move is coached, corrected and kept “safe.” We grow strongest when we’re given a goal to shoot for, protection from our worst errors, and allowed to work the rest out for ourselves.
We’re partial-shade plants. Thank goodness for friends like birch trees.