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Bloom where you are planted


The Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) is credited with the quote, “bloom where you are planted.” Later Mary Engelbreit made the phrase popular, and countless Biblical references seem to point to various verses in the Bible that carry a similar notion.  The “ancient” times when this phrase emerged undoubtedly reflects the fact that changing your location, where you lived, was not nearly as easy as it is today.

So the other night I was talking to my wife, Kathleen about this phrase. At first glance, the phrase would seem to be entirely positive and inspirational. There are a few ways we could paraphrase the saying, but basically it boils down to, “do the best with what you have, wherever you are.”

I have been wrestling with this phrase a bit and I am not sure I agree entirely with its premise. For context,  I own a landscape firm and I have been working with plants professionally for the last decade. I will say that my bias with the phrase “bloom where you are planted” is that I have watched plants fail miserably where they are planted. Forget about blooming, they can’t even survive. Whether it is a lack of sun or the soil is poor, plants and trees tell us rather quickly whether or not they have any intention of blooming where they are planted.  To prove the point, move a plant that is not happy from the shady north facing corner of the garden to a sunnier south facing area, and the plant begins to bloom indeed. Location matters to plants. In fact, for most plants and trees, location is everything!! Forgive me for stating the obvious.

So how does this translate for us? How are we to bloom where we are planted? How are we to thrive in our lives if we are living in “too shady” or “too dry” a setting? It is fair to say that we all have different versions of how we would like to live. For some, the intensity and vibrancy of a metropolitan lifestyle is essential for happiness. For others, clearly a more rural, small-town setting is where they feel more comfortable.

Is it that we are pre-wired for our spot in the “garden” of our life? Do we all have some “type” some “hard wiring”  at birth that determines where we will “bloom?” What if that were true? What then becomes of the small town, mountain-loving, rural “type” if they are “planted” in the city? Can they ever feel at peace? Can they ever truly bloom?

I don’t know where the ultimate wisdom lies. Perhaps, it really comes down to two things. Bloom where you are planted, BUT you better know who you are and understand that if you are “country” living in city, or “city” planted in the “country” you might want to make a change and get to the sunnier side of the garden.

What do you think?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Foster permalink
    03/13/2010 9:55 am

    Tom, You are a great writer and I know that what you and your wife “Kathleen”said is true.. I can bloom anywhere that love is or is needed..what ever inspires me of love, to love..etc, etc.. Without love I can’t bloom and that means that I’m not giving or looking hard enough for the love inside or out….So I guess I’m saying that you can bloom anywhere if you know what it takes to do so…If you have a great imagination or if you are creative and energetic like you..anywhere will do for your garden because you care…and one way or the other you’re gonna make it bloom. You’re going to watch the flowers and care if they look unhappy.. If one can never feel good in an area, one might make a lot of moves until they feel right..Heaven knows that’s me.
    Anyways it’s good to think about all this and that because “inspiration” comes from anything, anyone and anywhere, anytime.. wow lots of “anys”. And I always need and search for inspiration, with it I can bloom in a swamp, well maybe just for as long as a poem or song…or to pick some cat-tails…I’m having much fun and I’m a late bloomer with your blog..I’m grateful for your sharing…Peace to you and yours, Susan Foster and all the “four legged angels”

    • 03/13/2010 7:39 pm

      Is this the Susan Foster the singer/songwriter that I knew many moons ago?

      • Susan Foster permalink
        03/13/2010 9:47 pm


  2. Susan Foster permalink
    03/13/2010 10:02 pm

    Yes! Maybe I should elaborate? … I sent an email to you through another web-site “ It was on the music page “contact me”. It was a poem and a note I sent about 4 days ago or so…Among other things I explained that I am new to all this and believe yours was my second blog ever…Where have I been?….Not on the internet….Anyway, if you can’t find that, let me know how better to get it to you…If you’d like …Glad you replied…Susan

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