The flowers that wouldn't, and then did they ever

There is the matter of the nasturtiums on my little concrete patch.

For the first few years, they refused to yield to coaxing. They blossomed profusely, but they didn't honor my intentions. I meant for them to put on a vertical display; they stayed put, horizontally. I put little bamboo stakes in front ofthe mesh garden cloth they were meant to climb, just to reinforce my meaning, in case they (or I) were obtuse. But nothing.

Too overt, I thought. Perhaps nasturtium's showy nature belies its inner being. Perhaps they will yield to subtlety. I replaced the stakes with soft cord every few inches. I even tied them to the cord to give them a bit of a nudge. The plants bent backward, tripped over themselves, to avoid my scheme.

By about the third year, I got the message. Have it your way, I thought, I'm not about to harness fellow free beings. Go on. March to your own drummer.

And so they did. Astonishing even themselves, no doubt. For as I look out my window today, I see my concrete patch and the plants poking therefrom. And around the entire periphery, like a brilliant wrapping occluding the package it is meant to complement, are burgeoning nasturtiums.

Flourishing, flowing in waves of blooms around and across the concrete, up a little stick fence, appropriating a bit of soil here, jumping into a low wooden planter there, hopping over stones, up a rosebush, pausing for a brilliant display in front of a wooden gate. The plants have found no obstacle too great. And growing, yes, vertically now, aiming ever higher, in the tiny plot where they first refused my intent.

Now on their own, in profusion, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, ambling every which way.

There, the plants tell me. That's all we needed: our own way. We just needed to see what we were capable of. Not bad, don't you agree?

As you see, we have no problem with vertical. We'll be happy to give you vertical. We just needed to get a few things out of our system first.

And now, we're happy to oblige.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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