Monday, 23 May 2011

A Gardener's Theory of Mothering

So here's the thing: gardening and child-rearing are both forms of nurturing. Today we are not discussing if everyone has the capacity to nurture, or whether it is only the province of those who are hormonally insane, but a Genuwine Theory of Mothering. It probably has a fancy name - if you know, do please enlighten me.

So here is a picture of one of my troughs, recently planted with summer bedding. Chucked in, firmed, watered, slug pelleted, and then pretty much left to their own devices; it's clear that the plants are established and about to thrive:

And here are DH's runner beans, planted at the same time, with loving care and attention to detail:

Here is my lemon verbena (aloysia triphylla - or lippia citriodora for those of us who don't think classifications should be changed willynilly) that has been successfully overwintered outdoors for the last 3 years in spite of the fact that it is not reliably frost-hardy, and last winter was our earliest, coldest and longest since forever:

Here are the cuttings I took from it when I cut it back a couple of weeks ago, carefully trimmed, potted, sheltered on a warm windowsill, spoken to in tones of gentle encouragement:

That window was clean, then DH and the kids thought it would be amusing to use the hose ...

So you can see the developing theme: fussing too much and pandering to random whims is obviously the kiss of death to a plant. And the same goes for children: to develop a child's personality, character and independence, it must be left alone on occasions, permitted to make some mistakes, get cuts and bruises, and allowed to run wild. Or, there must be the appearance of untrammelled freedom - at least to the child.

I call it the Supervised Neglect Theory of Mothering.


  1. Wonderful theory! I completely agree. I wish more parents (especially the one's that belong to my students) understood this.

  2. Yep - a bit of neglect is quite healthy - as is dirt. It's how I was raised and I'm ok. I think.

    Love your cuttings - I have cuttings like that!

    Ali x

  3. So much for the dulcet tones of gentle encouragement. :)


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