FAILURE IS NOT NECESSARILY FAILURE
Oftentimes, as I read through the various plant forums, I encounter letters from new hybridizers. After doing their homework, making a plan and racheting up their expectations, the much awaited blooms arrive. Some of those blooms are a sobering moment. The color isn’t there. There are no real distinguishing characteristics that make the resulting blooms different enough to warrant being registered. Worse yet…ewwww, a pure white bloom. More often than not, the novice hybridizer says, “It just came out…white!” – as if this adds to the crash and burn. If you see something of yourself and your experience in this, take heart. We have a few insights into the situation that just might alleviate your angst.
First of all, we all fail to achieve our envisioned successes at some time or another. What you DO with failure is another matter. Yes, you didn’t succeed creating a quadruple, deep orange Brugmansia or a blue/gray/silver/salmon/speckled hibiscus right off the bat. Still, you LEARNED a few important things. You learned how to pollinate and you succeeded in getting your flower gloriously pregnant with seed. You learned how to responsibly care for and observe your parent plant’s health and well being. That’s good. You learned patience, for sure. Also good. You learned how to responsibly protect, collect and store seeds – another plus. You learned how to carefully plant and monitor your seeds and seedlings. You kept accurate records of the crosses and noted which plants either accepted or didn’t accept the pollens used for fertilizing. THAT’s valuable stuff too.
Now, you have one more major lesson…how to handle what you think is defeat gracefully and intelligently. Take all of the aforementioned points into consideration and add these. You’ve added another thriving plant to the planet. Score another one for your team – big time. When you consider the acres of living plant material that are being bulldozed under for construction projects in many countries, you’ve managed despite your busy schedule to set that business back by a raindrop or two. I’m proud of you. Get used to it.
It’s just white. Who says a nicely formed, fragrant white flower isn’t beautiful? If you’re in doubt about it’s value and ability to dazzle, show it to a small child. There’s going to be a lot of interest and appreciation there. If it has fragrance and you get a smile beneath a little nose that’s been dusted with pollen – you’ve hit the jackpot. THAT is an unbiased opinion. Stick one of your failures into a little girl’s hair, and you have an instant movie star or burgeoning ballerina. Nothing makes you look better than a circlet crown of white flowers. Gnomes are fully aware of this, and now you are.
I can’t register it. Boo hoo. This misperceived defeat allows you all kinds of options. DONATE IT! Find an elderly person in the neighborhood, ask if they would like it for their garden and plant it wherever they want. Give it to the local plant society for their annual plant auction. Give it to your cranky brother-in-law. Offer it to the local parks department. Sell it at a garage sale. Take it to a garden market and peddle it for the equivalent cost of a turkey. Swap it for something in a gardener friend’s garden. Pot it up and give it to a sick friend – they’ll treasure it.
If your plant is healthy, blooming like gangbusters and fragrant – you have produced a treasure. Cherish it, and for goodness sake, don’t compost it or throw a pity party. Remember, if someone tries to make you feel a failure…you can always point to the lost opportunities in their compost pile.
Oh! You’re so smart! 🙂