Riding an elephant through a garden center

I ran across a metaphor for how we think emotionally and rationally, and my thoughts turned to gardening, as they always do.

In summary, our emotional thinking, when our instincts kick in, is like an elephant.  Our rational thinking, which applies reason and thinks about the long-term, is like a little rider on top of that elephant trying to keep control of it.

Now picture when you go to a garden center and see a plant you love from a distance. The elephant in you awakens, rears up on her hind legs, trumpets loudly and goes thundering toward that plant. Pity the casual shopper standing in your elephant's way, your emotional self,  as you run instinctively in the direction of the plant, looking neither left nor right, until you finally grasp that plant in your trunk and bellow out "mine, all mine".

Then picture that rider on the elephant, who has been clinging on for dear life until the elephant finally has the plant in her grasp.   Now the rider gets her turn and regains control of the elephant. She starts to ask questions.  Where are you going to plant that?  Is it worth all the grocery money to have that plant?  Do you really need it to be complete as a gardener?

Oh, that elephant rider can be such a downer. She is so practical. She is so logical.  Sometimes she lets the elephant buy the plant. Other times she calmly convinces the elephant to put the plant down, apologize to all the people she stampeded past and pick out a more practical alternative.

But sometimes the elephant doesn't listen to the rider.  She won't let go of the plant. She loves the plant and it is going home with her regardless of what the rider does or says.

Elephants look calm, but watch out if they want something.
I certainly have enjoyed many a ride  through a garden center on my elephant.  Sometimes the rider in me makes my elephant put down the plant.  Fortunately, sometimes the rider stays quiet and lets the elephant in me buy my folly, I mean plant, and I'm grateful for that. It makes gardening more fun if we sometimes allow our emotions to decide on which plants to purchase.

After all, all practical and logical does not always a surprising, fun garden make.  Though at times, the rider has had to fix what the elephant did, or deal with it after the fact.  I swear it was the elephant who bought 1,100 crocus corms to plant this fall, ignoring the rider trying to control her, calm her down, convince her to settle for a more practical number. All the elephant could think of was how the crocuses would look blooming in the lawn in the spring.  I'm glad, though that the elephant, the emotional one, got her way.  The rider, the rational one, cleaned up the mess and figured out a way to plant all 1,100 crocuses in an afternoon. Both the elephant and the rider now look forward to spring.

Watch out for your elephant and other elephants the next time you go to a garden center or tour a garden.  You know who they are, how to spot them.  And for goodness sake, stay out of the way if two elephants stampede toward the same plant.  Or at least hope that there are experienced riders on board who can come to a nice comprise on who actually gets that plant.


  1. What a fun post!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  2. Yes, do watch for elephants or any other crazed animal within ourselves.~~Dee

  3. A great explanation of those feelings that overwhelm a gardener when stepping into a good nursery!

  4. BAd elephant! Mine is hard to control in nurseries, AND kitchen ware departments.

  5. "...at times the rider has had to fix what the elephant did..."LOL! Yes she has!

    Sometimes this just means a little crowding in the garden, but a couple experiences in this category have been pulling out things that turned out to be invasive. Pretty, yes, but rogues who couldn't control themselves either. Now my rider usually remembers there are gardening guides bookmarked on my phone and asks my elephant if "we" should look it up first!

  6. My elephant tends to run rampant in garden centers located in other zones. She sees all the plants that MIGHT work for us here and threatens to throw off her rider and sit on her if she doesn't shut up!

  7. Such a hilarious post. You are making good excuses and reduce the guilt resulting from impulsive buying. My elephant had many times thrown caution to the wind when enchanted in the nursery.

  8. Love, love, love this post! I am such an elephant and almost never ride on one. LOL

  9. This is has got to be one of my most favorite posts! This was so funny and soooo true!! LOL Loved it! It was just what I needed to read this morning. Thank-you!

  10. And here I have been blaming my best friend for enabling me whenever we go plant shopping, when all along there was an elephant causing all the problems:)

  11. Hello Carol and Garden Fairies,
    I have nominated you for a blog award, see floraseasons.com for instructions. Hope you enjoy it, you and your fairies deserve it, such a great blog!

  12. I've seen this happen far too often...and sometimes, it's even me being the elephant ;-)


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