Gardening Metaphor!

July 30

This year has been a good one for my garden. The key variable here is rainfall. It’s funny that virtually every metaphor about rain is a negative one, seeing as how beneficial it is, and indeed how absolutely vital is so often is.

But I want to talk about more than rain. I’ve read a lot of garden books, and learned many things. But the most crucial thing I ever learned from them came in two sentences. I can’t remember where I read them, and I will need to paraphrase. The second of the two sentences is the key one. They are:

-Every plant has three environmental needs and these vary in proportion from one type of plant to another: Sunlight, nutrients and water. -But you can’t make up for a lack of one of them by providing more of one of the others.

This tells you 90% of what you need to know about gardening. But that part about not being able to substitute one good thing for another seems to me to be a powerful metaphor for much else. I’ll let you think about that, while I lie in the sun.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.
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Tom Toles · July 29