Plants: Time to Value and Length of Value

A tree's LoV is a long, long time, hopefully
I've been thinking about plants.

In particular I've been thinking about how long it takes a plant to "deliver its value" once you bring it home and plant it.  By deliver its value, I mean the time it takes for a flower to bloom, for a tree to offer its shade, for a shrub to reach its potential or for a vegetable to be ready to eat.

I'm stealing a marketing term, "time to value", often abbreviated as TtV, to describe the time it takes a plant to do its thing.

An annual flower is usually doing its thing right after you plant it, even if you buy it as a small plant. It's TtV is almost measured in hours. But a tree might have a TtV measured in years if not a decade, from when you planted it until it is finally providing the dappled shade you hoped it would provide on a warm summer's day.

Some perennials have a fairly short TtV, if one season is short, but generally, don't we all give perennials about three seasons to deliver whatever their value is?

Then once we get through the TtV waiting period, how long does the value last?  I am calling the period of time that the plant is at its peak, the Length of Value or LoV. That's the amount of time we are loving that plant because it is blooming for us, or shading us, or feeding us.

When we get to the end of the LoV, its time for that plant to go. Of course, it's easy to let go of annuals and vegetable plants at the end of a growing season. We knew their LoV would be short.

It's not so easy to admit that a perennial has reached its maximum LoV and needs to be dug out. Sometimes, they make the decision for us and one year they just don't return.  But often they reach a max LoV and start to decline.  When that happens, we can give them a boost by digging them up, dividing them, and replanting them, giving them a fresh start, a new clock to measure their LoV

It's sometimes harder to recognize that a shrub or a tree has reached its maximum LoV and should be removed and replaced.  We may have enjoyed that tree or shrub for years, after all, and life in the garden without it would be hard to imagine.

While shrubs reaching the end of their LoV can often get a fresh start with a severe cutting back, trees usually can't. Our hope for trees, of course, is their LoV is longer than our own time in the garden.

Think about this, the next time you are impatiently waiting for a flower to bloom, for a tree to offer its shade, for a shrub to reach its potential or for a vegetable to be ready to eat. Every plant has it's own TtV and it's own LoV.

When we accept this, it makes it all the sweeter when we get value earlier or value longer than we ever expected it.


  1. The picture of the Lilac tree is a good reminder of TtV. They are notorious for taking at least 7 years to bloom. We had one that took more like 15years to bloom. It didn't last long after that either. They smell so good tho. Almost worth the space in the garden.

  2. But a gardener values plants differently than your typical homeowner, because of the pleasure of growing a plant, even before it reaches its TV, has value to the gardener.


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