Transplant Shock

The decorations were simple because there was no way to
improve upon that view!

When Jess and Thomas married in April, David and I purchased 6 potted “grocery” hydrangeas for their ceremony.

They weren’t terribly expensive, but I wanted to put that investment to work after the wedding too. Since we were about to expand our back deck and redo all the flower beds, I decided to save money and plant these after the wedding. I’d also move my struggling hydrangeas at the back of our property up to the new beds so they could be watered regularly by the soaker hoses. (God has done a great job of keeping them wet for me this year, but most summers they are neglected. Water is heavy, Tennessee is hot, mosquitoes are prolific, and I’m whine-y!)

Knowing I’d need to acclimate the potted plants to the outdoors but uncertain how to do it, I went to my trusty internet for advice. Grocery hydrangeas are genetically identical to the Penny Mac hydrangeas struggling in my backyard, but they have been shocked into making one huge display of blooms. They rarely survive beyond that first bloom.

Acclimating hydrangeas before planting.

Call me “stubborn”–I decided to give my plan a try anyway. It wouldn’t cost me anything if I failed, and it had the potential to save me hundreds of dollars if it worked. I set the plants on the deck where they were shaded by a tree but close enough to the back door that I wouldn’t forget to water them. After a few weeks, they’d adjusted to the heat and were ready to go into the ground just as soon as the deck was finished in early June.

It’s late July (not the good kind), and we still have our small deck. That means the grocery hydrangeas haven’t been planted. Tiny pots, summer heat, and the neighborhood cats worked together in the last 2 months to kill all the old blooms and most of the leaves; but I’ve kept watering the sticks and soil in spite of David’s sideways glances at me.

I am desperate to see these plants survive and thrive because they have come to represent my life. God is pulling David’s and my roots out of the fertile Tennessee foothills and transplanting us to the mile-high Denver desert. We’re leaving behind the beautiful, fulfilling life we’ve cultivated with all of our family and friends over the last 8 years; we’re entering a land without the spiritual and emotional nourishment to which we’ve grown accustomed.

This weekend David and I spent hours in the yard getting the property ready for our coming renters. If these hydrangeas do symbolize our life, then I am encouraged. About a week ago, tiny new leaves appeared on all 6 plants. One even has a bloom. The hydrangeas are now in the ground around the old deck (which is soon to become the “freshly-stained old deck”), and they already look happier. Only time will tell if they–and we–thrive after our transplant shock.

Just as I had plans for those plants, God has plans for us in Denver. I hope the hydrangeas will enhance our property as the earth nourishes them, and I pray that we will bless Denver as our new home provides a new life with new opportunities.

Author: Amanda Hope Haley

Amanda Hope Haley is a lover of the Bible—its God, its words, and its history. She holds a master’s degree of theological studies in Hebrew Scripture and Interpretation from Harvard University, hosts The Red-Haired Archaeologist podcast, has ghostwritten for popular Christian authors, and contributed to The Voice Bible translation. Amanda and her husband, David, live in Tennessee with their always-entertaining basset hound, Copper.

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