In times like these, it seems that our own perceived “problems” pale in comparison to the “big picture.”
In my day-to-day work, I have the opportunity to help people solve problems with their landscapes, lawns, and gardens. I enjoy the problem-solving part of my job as an extension agent.
You’d be surprised how upset some people can be about a few weeds, a dying petunia or a tomato with a crack in it. They’ll let small things like this upset their entire world. It’s as if they think we live in a perfect world when it comes to expectations for the plants in their landscape.
It has become apparent to me that too many people spend too much time letting too many small things bother them too much.
When my twin sister, Linda, and I were growing up in a small town in middle Georgia, an elderly couple (Mr. and Mrs. Hunt) would crack pecans and give the shelled halves to us to eat. They’d hand the shelled pecans to us over the fence that separated our yards. At five or six years old, this was a treat for my sister and me.
I remember their landscape. I remember Mrs. Hunt sweeping their dirt driveway lined with coconut sized rocks using handmade brooms. I remember their pink flowering dogwoods in spring. I remember their old fashion yellow and orange daylilies during summer. I remember the fascination of seeing red spider lilies seemingly come from nowhere in the fall underneath deciduous trees as they displayed their autumn colors. I remember Mrs. Hunt letting me smell a flower from a sweetshrub plant, which reminded me of sweet apples. The deep red blooms and dark green leaves of this shrub complemented the white wooden wall on the east side of their home.
I remember climbing a large mulberry tree in their backyard and picking and eating the berries. I remember watching Mr. Hunt prune grapevines growing on an overhead trellis. I remember learning about the history of a ginkgo tree planted just outside a chicken pin in their side yard. I remember watching hummingbirds flying in and out of the reddish-orange funnel-shaped blooms of a large trumpet vine growing on an old metal frame of a water tank.
I don’t remember the weeds, even though I know there must have been weeds in the Hunt’s landscape. I know there was the occasional pecan that didn’t fill out or that was worm-infested. And I’m sure the replacement of a plant had to happen on occasion. But these are not the things that made lasting impressions for me.
The big picture is not the weeds, the dying petunia plant, or the pecan with a worm in it. Sure, you will have weeds in your yard and individual plants that don’t survive. Just don’t let these things become the source of worry. In my opinion, a landscape should be a source of pleasure, a place to learn, and a place to pass along lasting memories.
With all there is to worry about in this world (as recent days have revealed), why let your own backyard be one of them?
Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County