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Pulling the weeds

Published on Tuesday, 24th April 2018, contributed by Future Me

Creating the conditions for the team to thrive

Has anyone noticed how a bit of sun and warm weather leads to rampant weeds?

I’m very much a novice gardener and the last couple of years I have stood back and watched my garden get overrun, not feeling confident to cut things back, not sure what’s a weed or a plant. 

Having watched this process happen, this year I set out to take back control, get to know my garden properly, and learn on the job.

Not only have I enjoyed every hour I’ve managed to grasp in the garden, the experience has brought to life for me a phrase I have heard and used many times when encouraging leaders to be hands on and create the right conditions for their teams to thrive. 

“Pulling the weeds” previously sounded a bit mercenary and heartless but I now appreciate the intent and the impact on a much more subtle level.

In fact a weed can be simply described as a plant in the wrong place.

I’d never realised before how much gardening and managing a team have in common - it is uncanny and I can imagine myself getting a bit carried away with this analogy as I start talking to my plants.  Surely a sign of middle age or that I am well converted to country living!

Here are my take-outs from my garden musings which I hope give encouragement to leaders and managers as well as fellow aspiring gardeners….

Have a vision

  • If you don’t know what you want to achieve you’ll end up being reactive, jumping from one thing to the next.
  • Have a clear plan and get on with it.

Get involved

  • Its only when you get down to soil level that you see what is really going on – you have to look under the leaves and get your hands dirty to get to know how each plant is doing.

Pull the weeds

  • Weeds can overwhelm nearby plants, taking the nutrients from the soil and leaving no light or space for others to grow.
  • Once removed the neighbouring plants look better immediately, almost breathing a sigh of relief with room to breathe and expand.
  • Watch out for imposters – big, bold and dominating, they look very similar to the quality plants, but produce no flowers and are of no value.  These are the mostsatisfying ones to remove but it takes time to identify them as they do such a good job of fitting in.

Give direction to encourage new growth

  • All plants need an annual cut back to allow for new spring growth.
  • And the most flourishing rampant plants need constant trimming to stop them getting wild and stringy.
  • Be brave – it helps them get fuller and stronger.

Fill the gaps

  • There’s always an opportunity for a trip to the garden centre to bring in some fresh new plants, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed with choice, or carried away.
  • Choose something that fits the feel and the conditions of the garden.
  • Allow space for each plant to grow, don’t plant them too tight or they’ll never flourish.
  • Pay extra attention to new seedlings – getting them well established in the first few months is crucial.

Take joy in the unexpected

  • Some of my highlights have been when I’ve pulled out a particularly boisterous specimen and found underneath a delicate little flower.
  • With a bit of care and attention even the most dwindling plants can recover and surprise you.
  • You can’t plan for everything  - the garden has a life of its own which is a source of surprise and delight.

Be in it for the long term

  • Some actions have an immediate impact; some may reap rewards in months or years to come.
  • It’s never perfect, and takes time and commitment, but if you lose interest you’re back to square one.
  • The more you do it, the more you enjoy it and the better the results.

Thankfully gardens and teams can be forgiving – it’s a learning process!

I have loved the time I’ve spent amongst my flowerbeds and already I am reaping the rewards and feeling proud of myself.

The time spent with your garden or team is never wasted.  Sometimes the thing you’ve been putting off becomes the most rewarding.