Late Bloomers: Worth the Wait
Lessons from My Mandevilla
I have a confession: I am not much of a green thumb, but I enjoy having a few flowers during the summer season. I recently snapped the above picture of my favourite plant…the Mandevilla. It is a hardy vine with beautiful blooms – red, white or pink. But in my experience, mandevillas are late bloomers. Planting one always requires patient waiting in order to enjoy its blooms. Our summers here in Manitoba are short, and typically at some point in September, temperatures descend to zero or lower and we have frost overnight. At that point my mandevilla is finished for the year. But it’s not until halfway through August that it starts to bloom. And when it does…oh what a sight!
Blooming out of Season
Like my mandevilla, I have always felt like a late bloomer. It seems to take me longer to move forward in life. As a result, sometimes I feel like I’m out of season, watching other people bloom around me. But it’s almost impossible to measure our own growth, and certainly dangerous to try. Comparing ourselves with others inevitably leads to discouragement. Someone else’s blooms always appear more beautiful than our own. So we strive to force ourselves to bloom before we are ready. As a result, we miss the joy of watching others blooming, as well as enjoying our own blooming season.
Doing the Dirty Work
Watching my mandevilla spend most of our summer season developing an extensive branch and root system challenged me on how I view growth. In our world, we value blooming more than growing. We want to get to the end product or result and skip the process. We neglect the invisible, unrecognized “dirty work” of building strong roots. This kind of underground growth gets no applause. But when the storms and the droughts come, with strong roots we will continue to bloom. The hard times show us how deep or shallow our root system is. I’d rather be a late bloomer than bloom quickly without lasting substance. The deeper the roots, the longer the process of growth. But some days I get tired of waiting for my roots to emerge from the ground.
Faith vs Fixing
One year, I bought a mandevilla that looked like it was struggling. It had a few yellow leaves, and in my desperation to save it, I over-watered it until it shrivelled up into a dried-up tree. I thought I killed it, but I couldn’t just give up and dump it in the bush. As embarrassing and ugly as it was, I decided to just leave it alone and stop trying to fix it. And one day, near the end of the summer, it started producing new green shoots and leaves. Finally, to my amazement, it bloomed! That one little plant brought me a whole lot of joy. Those blooms reminded me of second chances, new beginnings . Life after death. They taught me a valuable lesson: let go and trust the process, rather than trying to force or fix things. Sometimes all we need is a little faith – and the space to grow.
Worth the Wait
As I write this, we are just over halfway through September, and my mandevilla is covered in beautiful blooms. All my other flowers are looking worn and bedraggled. They are not producing any new buds or blooms…but my mandevilla is. It seems that it has invested itself far more extensively in developing roots before blooming, and the results are nothing less than spectacular. I’m still thinking about all the lessons I’ve learned from this beautiful plant. There’s a special place in my heart for late bloomers. They are worth the wait..and so are you and I.