I was working in Kentucky recently and asked a green-thumbed colleague for advice about young aspen trees I had planted this past spring, how a few of them have flourished, yielding dozens of the somewhat heart-shaped leaves, yet others have struggled to grow any at all. Two trees in particular struggled early on but came around mid-summer with new limbs and strong trunks, while another pair, despite everything I had tried to make their deciduous lifestyles bearable, became prone to fungus and insect infestations.
I further explained that the trees had come from the same nurseries, I had prepared the planting soils identically, I had watered and fed them equally, and I had gently tended the ground throughout the entire growing process faithfully. I even put up chicken wire to protect their tender leaves from hungry rabbits and deer. Yet each tree still wants to do its own thing, grow at its own pace, suffer its own problems, one minute making life easy for this well-intentioned gardener, and a day later causing me to stand scratching my head like a moron who couldn’t raise a Chia Pet.
My fine Kentuckian friend, smiling in a way that made me feel like an ignorant northerner standing on his side of the Mason-Dixon line, replied, “Brock, trees are like children. They can come from the same parents, you can raise them exactly the same, and you can do all you can to nurture them through each season. But they’re still gonna grow the way they wanna grow.”