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Friday, September 7, 2012

Tosser's Remorse

The other day, Lyn and I went looking for a small lamp that she had decommissioned; she'd belately discovered a use for the little light. But it was too late. It had found its way to the dump.

Enter tosser's remorse.

"I wish I'd kept it," said Lyn, in a rare example of second-guessing one of her tosser choices.

Such remorse happens in many aspects of living, including in the clothing we get rid of, in the tools we let go. And, especially for me, in the plants we edit.


Living in the compost pile, jasmine poses a dilemma.

Exhibit No. 1: After several years of growing an orange jasmine tree (Murraya paniculata), I got tired of overwintering the tender plant indoors; mealy bugs loved it, and it took up more space than I wanted to give it.

So, in early spring, I snatched it from its pot and stashed it in Big Momma's Garden, leaning it upside a tree and giving it no care at all. Passing it months later, I noticed green shoots at the base. Determined to put this plant out of my head and my garden, I moved it to the compost pile.

Buuut, hedging my bets, I stood it up, and I didn't cut it into little pieces to get rid of it for good. Serious tosser's remorse has set in. I began recalling the powerfully sweet fragrance that was so welcome in the living room during cold, dreary months. And how the little white flowers lit up the space around the plant. I also recalled the reasons I'd tossed it in the first place.

The jasmine is still in the compost pile. No additional growth. Increasingly remorseful, I think of rescuing the pitiful plant and trying to nurse it back to health. But, I'm also thinking of whether I need to start fresh, buy another jasmine. Before winter.

Tosser's remorse. Gardener's curse.

18 comments:

  1. Funny you should post this today. I was just lammenting that I got rid of a leather jacket, 15 years ago. Ha... You could just leave your jasmine in the compost to see what happens. Maybe it will like it there and you won't have to have it inside. I have something survive winter in the compost every once in awhile and seems to be better for the compocation.

    Any time you and Lyn feel the need for a little road trip you can swing by SW IN and visit us at Greenbow. I have a pruning saw, shears, oh and did I mention wine?? tee hee...

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    1. Lisa, your leather jacket is the Swedish sweater I'm still missing decades after I got rid of it.

      To be sure, compost breathes life into many a plant.

      Hmmm, thanks to Laurrie's big tell, I could start a whole new pruning/wining avocation. And, I *have* wanted to see your Greenbow. Hmmm.

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  2. For someone who is so committed to the finality of pruning, you are surprisingly ambivalent about tossing! The orange jasmine had its day, but now must go, and I can tell you have already decided that. Now you just have to do it, and make your decision stick. (But while there still might be some life in that plant, the remorse part is hard to shake, isn' it!)

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    1. Yes, Laurrie, this situation reminds me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson saying about foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds.

      You know from personal experience that I'm fine with pruning's finality. Too, I'm often resolute about tossing. But you rightly suggest that when a plant rises from the dead and gives me a baleful look, I stop and think. In the end, I'll likely do the right thing: no resuscitation.

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  3. I have a hard time just letting a plant die, unless it's a weed or a plant I don't like. If the damn thing starts to grow again, I'm pulled in and give it a second chance. But as for objects, I'm a purger. I don't like accumulating stuff and love getting rid of it even more. I find it cathartic.

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    1. I'm with you: I love the look of empty spaces that used to hold objects I hadn't loved or used for a long time.

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  4. I am guilty of tossing many items I find myself needing or finding a use for a week later. I've been trying not to have tosser's remorse though. I tend to become sentimentally attach to things, but have recently realized that I can take a photo of something to remind me of the memory I have of it, but I don't need to keep the thing itself.

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    1. What a fine idea – photographic memories, in a sense. We do that with people, so why not with objects.

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  5. Hey, Lee. I am quite the tosser and have had a few cases of tosser's remorse. I don't have it happen very often though because there are usually several stages to my "tossing." Regarding your jasmine, my vote is that you hurry out to buy a new one right away. They do have such a delightful fragrance. Don't you have room to squeeze just one more plant in among your beautiful orchids? :-)

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    1. Hey, Beth, multi-stage tossing is a good way to look at it. I suppose the last stage is acceptance? Acknowledgement that the toss is final?

      You know there's always room for one more.

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  6. I had to laugh at the above comment. I also toss in stages. I am getting better though. But my husband is hopeless. He never tosses anything. I have to do it behind his back. About the jasmine: Can you overwinter a small cutting, then plant it out in the spring?

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    1. And, I'll bet your husband never says: "Hey, what happened to . . ."

      Hmmm, taking a cutting certainly would solve the space problem. Good solution if I can get past the need for immediate gratification with a ready-to-bloom jasmine.

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  7. Lee, maybe you need to find a photo of yourself in the sweater and find a good Swedish knitter to replicate it! I used to have eight beautiful, red cloth napkins and sold four of them at a yard sale. Seller's remorse ever since. As for plants, I even feel guilty when I prune a houseplant and toss the cuttings out. I think "This is a living thing. Who am I to decide its fate?" A minor neurosis in the scheme of things... maybe.

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    1. Getting a new sweater knitted would be wonderful symmetry, DJ. New England certainly has its share of knitters.

      On the napkins, Interesting how sparing down can backfire on you. Helps explain how people become hoarders.

      Pruning is one of my favorite things, so I rarely have pruner's remorse. Some friends I've pruned for, have, however, after seeing what I've done to their babies.

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    2. Lee, I should clarify my comment about tossing cuttings out, so I won't sound like I'm totally losing my grip on reality. I enjoy pruning outdoor plants (especially Japanese maples) and know that all need it occasionally, if just to remove dead branches. It's house plant cuttings that I hesitate to throw out -- maybe because many of the plants have been given to me over the years by people dear to me; I feel that I should start cuttings and pass them on. I feel better if I at least put them in the compost pile. Anyway, happy pruning -- with no remorse! Have a good week.

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    3. Understood, DJ. Difference noted. Thanks.

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  8. Hi Lee, I enjoyed your post. I think all gardeners experience tossers remorse. I especially go through this when I want to try a new plant and have to chose which plant to get rid of to make room. I even get squeamish when I have to thin my vegetable garden.

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    1. Greetings, Lana. I'm delighted the post resonated with you. Don't like killing your pretties, eh? Indeed, we all have remorse, especially when we vow to spare down, as I do every fall. Today, I tossed a couple of houseplants. I can guarantee I'll have no remorse about them. Really.

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