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Today I learned (yet another) lesson from one of my plant allies, the Rose of Sharon plant now blooming on our balcony.

Let me tell you a story . . .

I was disappointed when, early last year, we were asked to remove all window boxes from our balcony due to pending construction and balcony repair (floor and railings). And then the COVID pandemic happened, and the work was put on hold (and is still outstanding), with the same “no window boxes” edict.

But we kept two shrubs, promising to move them when the construction started. I do feel this could have been an option for the window boxes too, but at the time the work was imminent. So, we still have a small rose bush (which unexpectedly self-revived earlier in this year after been chopped down to its roots), and a Rose of Sharon, which some know it as a magnolia variety.

The shrub pictured had suffered through several chaotic and stressful summers here in Vancouver, Canada: we had many summers of cloudy yellow skies due to forest fire smoke, our annual droughts (so unexpected for me in a temperate rain forest climate), and this year’s “heat dome”, which was devastating in so many ways. But the shrub is still here, now blossoming, and even taller than last year, despite rigorous pruning in the autumn.

Last year, its buds didn’t emerge until late August, and there were far less than usual. I could see them struggling to open. In the cooler autumn weather that followed, they didn’t open at all. Not one. They just dried on the stalk, never realizing their potential.

But this year, so many buds have now emerged! And in the last couple of days, three buds have unfurled in all their splendour. Many more are about to open, sharing their fragrance, their ephemeral beauty, and supporting the pollinators.

This little shrub and I have connected in so many ways in the last few years. We are in right relationship with each other. We each have our own challenges, at times mirroring each other, yet always supporting each other albeit in different ways. It has offered me much wisdom: how to persevere, how to adapt, how to bloom in challenging circumstances, and how to rest when needed.

I am grateful for this plant ally, which I visit daily, and grateful for today’s new blossoms.

Who are your plant allies?