Today, being the first day of March, is GOOPS day at joene’s garden. GOOPS stands for gardening OOPs. I fess up one of the many gardening mistakes I’ve made over the years, hoping that my admission will help prevent other gardeners from doing the same. Then I encourage you to share a GOOPs as well.
This month my GOOPs deals with connectedness, relationships, and generosity. A while back I read a press release about a study that reports people act in a more caring manner when exposed nature. Professor Richard Ryan, from the University of Rochester, New York and his colleagues conducted some experiments with 370 people encouraged to notice the colors and textures of computer images of either landscapes or cityscapes. The researchers asked participants to imagine the sounds and smells of these settings. In a separate scenario, each person was randomly assigned to work in a lab that did or did not contain plants. After each scenario the participants answered questions related to aspirations of wealth and fame or connectedness, as in close personal relationships, and community.
Their answers revealed that people exposed to natural scenes were more apt to rate relationships and community more importantly than they had in similar questionnaires answered before they started the study. By contrast, those intensely focused on the cityscape buildings and roads rated wealth and fame higher.
The next part of the experiment conducted by Ryan’s group went a step further. In two of the scenarios they gave participants $5, telling each they could keep the money or anonymously give it to another participant who would then receive another $5 and could also choose to keep or give the money away. In doing so the researchers found people exposed to natural settings were more generous.
It’s likely no surprise to gardeners that people who focus on natural environments have a strong sense of community and relationships. I also doubt many gardeners are surprised by the study’s suggestion that exposures to the natural environment breed generosity. How many plant swaps do we read about each spring?
The GOOPs comes in the nature of gardeners’ generosity. When I first began to garden I received many plant gifts from other gardeners. Often not knowing what I was getting, I learned through experience that one or another gift was extremely aggressive. Some turned out to be invasive, but without knowing this at the time, I too shared the excess ‘gifts’ as they grew out of the space I had.
Years have passed and I know much more about what is currently considered invasive in my locale. Now, unless I am really sure that any swapped-for plant will not become my problem, I keep those I’m unfamiliar with potted until I can research and watch its growth and bloom habits. I frequently use swapped or traded for plants in deck and porch containers, and if I like what I see these gifts are invited to stay. Those with very aggressive underground growth habits – I’m talking runners – often find their way to the compost pile or outdoor fire pit after the growing season is done. The Hakone pictured here is a swap invited to stay – thanks, Debbie. Others, like a plume poppy, did not.
Ok, I’ve generously shared another of my GOOPs, so how generous are you? You must have at least one faux pas gardening woe to swap. If so, share it in a comment here, or write a GOOPs post on your blog –just be sure to leave a teaser and link in a comment below. If you need a GOOPs nudge, stroll through previous GOOPs posts – maybe you’ll get an idea.
Happy 19 days till spring!