The expression “results may vary” always make me laugh. Since the early days of advertising, we’ve been sold a bill of goods.
- One size fits all (ahem)
- Guaranteed results (or your money back)
- New and improved
and so on.
Do you ever find yourself applying these terms to everyday life?
Mine would go something like this: I’m going to head out into the world today, knowing full well that results may vary. I’m going to shrug into my one size fits all sweater, which is actually a size large…just in case. Life does not come with guarantees, but if it did, I might be able to get compensation for that big bruise on my shin. (My life’s mantra: slow down, Alys, slow down!) And finally, far from being new and improved I would like to offer up a more accurate slogan: Old and improving. I like the idea of being a better person with the rise of each day, but there is nothing new about the four step maneuver it takes to get out of bed.
These same advertising slogans have been rattling around in my head when I’m in the garden. One example: I planted an old packet of broccoli seeds figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained. A small cluster of seedlings sprouted giving me hope. I thinned them to a respectable number and waited for the plants to take off. They’re not dead, but they’re not growing either. The seedlings remain in a suspended animation weeks after planting. Results may vary.
Last summer I planted our fountain with succulents. It’s a long story for another day, but suffice it to say that is one expensive planter. I’m not well versed on the variety of succulents available, and the nurseries provide scant clues. The pot might say “two-inch succulent” or “four-inch succulent” which tells me nothing about growth habits. As you can see from the photo below, it’s not a one size fits all proposition. The plan was to have the center plant gradually grow up, while its companions to the left and right gracefully trailed over the edges.
Nature is as nature does.
As for “guaranteed results or your money back”, I’m pretty sure there is a disclaimer for acts of god or nature. There are no guarantees when it comes to gardening. You can plant a seed, water it, and hope that it grows. Have you seen those seed packets? Those plants are amazing! I’ll buy a hundred, and grow produce for the entire neighborhood. I’ll have vases of gorgeous, fresh flowers scattered throughout the house. It’s guaranteed!
Darwin knew what he was talking about. It’s all about survival of the fittest. I plant seeds, and they refuse to grow. I plant bulbs, and the squirrels dig them up and either eat them or toss them on the deck. Seedlings pop through the soil but then snails eat them in the dead of night. Plants that overcome these obstacles, must contend with birds, squirrels, rats, drought, stink bugs, fungus, scale and sometimes this careless gardener who forgets to water a dried out pot. Guaranteed!
Finally, new and improved might mean pesticide-laden seeds. I like to garden old school: heirloom plants and seeds in a pesticide-free garden. As I mentioned earlier, old and improving.
And that, my friends, brings me back full circle. Results may vary. Sometimes that’s a wonderful thing. My entire front garden self-seeded once again, with Nigella, California Poppies, Cornflowers and Sweet Peas. They seem impervious to the recent frost. They’re lush and green, planted by nature, watered by recent storms and back by popular demand. Now that’s a slogan to celebrate.
Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. Stephen Leacock
If you were running an ad campaign for your daily life, what would you say?