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  • Writer's pictureBette Allen, MD

What Plants Can Teach Us About Resilience

Resilience gives you the strength and flexibility to make the changes necessary to deal with adversity. Resist the assumption that there is only one solution to a problem, it is likely that there are many. Resiliency demands the creativity to imagine the unimaginable. There may be things that you wish were different in your yard. Sometimes what looks like an easy fix may lead to unexpected consequences and new problems. With more consideration you may find that in the problem lies the seed of the solution.

For example, perhaps you watched your favorite plant wither and die last summer. Before it died, there was evidence of insect damage. It appeared that a pest had killed it and it seemed like a pesticide or organic deterrent was the answer. But subsequently you found that other things planted in that area did not thrive.

A larger truth is that, while this favorite plant may have thrived in full sun in a different locale, in the high desert of Albuquerque the days of sunshine and high heat, combined with poorly draining clay or rapidly draining sand, may put stress on plants even when watered properly. Water alone cannot relieve heat stress. The plant wilts and becomes easily susceptible to an attack of pests.

A different approach would be to select the right plant for the exposure. Perhaps you will plant it in the shade of another plant or of a building. You may also improve the quality and texture of the soil with compost, decrease evaporation and discourage weeds with mulch, and attract beneficial insects by including pollinator plants in the same area. Here you have used several interventions to improve the ability of the plant to survive heat stress.

It is easy to notice weaknesses. It is also important to recognize and magnify strengths when dealing with adversity. This is true whether developing resilience in your landscape or in your health.


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