We added a patio to our back yard several years ago, which left an area between our house and the new patio that needed some landscaping. I went to a garden supply store and bought several bushes, which we planted according to the directions on the labels, paying careful attention to how large they were supposed to grow. But either the person who wrote those labels knows even less about plants than I do or the bushes had their own ideas regarding optimal growth, because every one of them grew to at least three times their predicted size. What was supposed to be an artistic arrangement of greenery and flowers looked more like an over-grown jungle with each passing week.
We dug up a few bushes and moved them to other parts of our yard, hoping they would survive the transplant. Most of them did. But then we were left with a scraggly-looking plant that was wedged in between a crepe myrtle and an evergreen. I didn’t remember buying it and wasn’t even sure whether it was a bush or a particularly ambitious weed. My husband and I debated whether we should transplant it or simply pull it out, but in the end we decided to move it to the side of the house to replace a rose bush that had died last year.
It was in the middle of summer and I had no idea what kind of sunlight this particular plant preferred, so I knew the odds of survival weren’t good. I also knew it was entirely possible that we were going to all this effort to save a weed, possibly even a version of a ragweed that both my husband and I are allergic to. But for some strange reason, replanting seemed the right thing to do.
The plant not only lived, it thrived. And the last time I was at a garden center, I saw one that looked just like it and eagerly read the label. Turns out, that scraggly bush wasn’t a weed at all…it’s actually a butterfly bush (which I still don’t remember buying). And this whole past week it’s been busy attracting monarch butterflies.
I’m not, and never have been, what you’d call an optimistic person. Right now I have a pain in a lower molar which I’m quite certain is going to require some kind of serious and expensive treatment, because a pain in my tooth can’t mean anything else, right? Looking at the bright side is not my strong point and neither is expecting good things, despite the fact that I have had my share of good things in life. It’s a negative thought pattern that I have always struggled with and truly hope to overcome some day.
Which is the point of the story of the butterfly bush. I’m not good at gardening and most of the bushes and flowers that I plant die well before their time despite my best efforts. But I overcame my natural pessimism and gave that weedy-looking plant a chance, and the reward was a thriving and beautiful butterfly bush that actually does attract butterflies. And I hope that whenever I look at it, I’ll remember the lesson it taught me. Because I really do want to become a person who is more willing to take a chance on something good.