Just Because

On Pruning


I learnt the basic principles of pruning from a friend. The general idea is to use a sharp pair of secateurs, snip off at 45 degrees just above where there is a bud heading in the direction you want the plant to grow and leave plenty of space in the centre to ensure good airflow. Every snip needs to be made with care and consideration of where the plant needs to be encouraged to extend itself and where further growth would be harmful and therefore, inhibited, even if blooms are abundant on that particular branch.

Last weekend saw me doing just that over a couple of hours. A wildly overgrown miniature tea rose at home had branches going in all directions, crisscrossing and stifling each other in an effort to get to the sunlight, which a neighbouring gardenia grandiflora was denying it. As you do, after a while my mind wandered and I wondered why, as a rule, we are so adept at pruning our gardens but fail so miserably at understanding that our personal growth requires similar pruning that would rid us of the unhealthy growth or simply, old growth that used to be good but is badly in need of renewal.

Take for example attitudes that keep us thinking of and treating our sons and daughters like they were still in primary school even when they have surpassed childhood, because it is a comfortable and less confrontational position for everyone. Or those relationships that diminish us as human beings but we cling on to because we fear their absence would create un-fillable voids. Like errant branches on a rose bush, these kinds of growth will continue to flourish if we leave them be but as they do so, they will disrupt the growth of the branches around them, divert the energy of the plant into negative growth, attract aphids (we all have some kind of sap-sucking insects in our lives, don’t we?) and eventually, stun the health of the very plant from which it springs. For the plant as a whole to thrive, it needs to be pruned.

The other thing about pruning is, of course, that as you prune you have to decide which direction you want future growth to take. Such choices require deliberation but before any gardener decides he/she has to step back and look at the plant as a whole, to see its shape and stage of development. Stepping back, taking stock and then making a clean cut so emergent growth in new directions may occur is an intrinsic part of a healthy life. To continue growing, we need to be brave enough to seek new directions.

That being the case, my question to you is: have you had a chance to prune lately?




Image credit: Cindy Boyd at http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/mini-tea-roses-bouquet-cindy-boyd.jpg


I'm a research fellow at an Australian university where I work on a number of projects. These include projects to do with new media and migration and the Chinese diaspora in Australia, projects on the Malaysian internet, ethno-religious issues in Singapore and Malaysia. And, before I forget many of the photos I use on this site were taken by my sister, Jessie and myself. All rights are reserved.

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