There’s still life in those leaves
500 Words: The Kindness of Strangers
Many years ago, our local supermarket used to sell shrubs and seedlings, along with lots of other garden paraphernalia.
The poor plants that were either well past their use-by date or definitely not long for this earth were sat up on a small table and sold off at greatly discounted prices.
I had just finished my weekly shopping with a couple of small children in tow.We stopped to have a look at the ‘dead plant table’, as the kids called it.
A bedraggled bottlebrush caught my eye.
I picked it up in its pot to have a closer look. The poor plant was sticking out of soil that was as hard as cement and almost the same colour.
It was not looking very well at all.
In fact, it was looking decidedly dejected.
Another shopper had stopped at the dead plant table, also.
She watched me as I tried to examine the potted bottlebrush. “You’ll be right with that one, love,” the stranger offered with a smile. “Do you think so?” I replied. “Definitely,” she answered. “Look, there’s still life in those leaves.”I had a closer look. The stranger was right. “Just snip off those dead tips. That’ll do it the world of good.” The stranger grabbed the pot off me and turned it upside down.
Fuzzy, brown fibres that looked like dried shredded coconut were poking out from the holes in the bottom of the black plastic pot. “See that,” the stranger pointed, “root bound.””I don’t have much of a green thumb,” I offered. “Don’t need a green one,” the stranger said, “you just need the one you’ve got. When you get home, tip the pot over, stick your thumb in and pull out the plant. Tease out the roots, give ’em a little trim then plant it in good soil in a sunny spot. No need to coddle it, but just give it some water and keep the weeds away and you’ll be right.” “I don’t know,” I said, my voice wavering.”You’ll be right love,” she said again. “You couldn’t kill that bush with a cricket bat, mark my words.”
And with that she picked up her shopping bags and went on her way.
The stranger’s kind words had encouraged me.
I bought the bottlebrush, took it home and did exactly what she had said.
It took a little while before I saw a turnaround in its condition but once I did, there was no going back for my little friend. It grew bigger and stronger and each year since it has been a prolific flowerer.My reject bottlebrush stands proudly at my front gate, with its beautiful blood-red blooms adorning the entrance to my property each spring. It attracts birds and insects, looks fantastic and gives me so much pleasure.
I am grateful to that kind stranger for her gardening words of wisdom. The encouragement she gave both me and the bottlebrush, who I’m certain was listening also, was very powerful.
She believed that we could do it and we did!