JARS v38n3 - The Cinderella Syndrome

The Cinderella Syndrome
Austin C. Kennell, Afton, Virginia

After a long, often bitter tussle with my baser instincts, I've decided, rather than seeking personal enrichment by patenting and selling it, I would divulge to all rhododendron enthusiasts my secret technique for plant enhancement that makes any plant more beautiful - much more enjoyable - and a lot more special than any other known method.
Not only have I decided to disclose this astounding technique - but I will also personally and unequivocally guarantee its success. It is so easy to use - anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere. And, imagine this, it costs little or nothing and takes effect instantly! A truly remarkable advance!
I stumbled upon the discovery of this amazing technique quite by accident many years ago, not long after I started growing rhododendrons. I really didn't know what I was doing (a problem the years have not materially improved) - and I wasn't all that thrilled about fooling around with plants. What plants I had I obtained by purchasing from local "fast plant" sources. One day, a friend stopped by and gave me a small rhododendron plant - and Shazaam - it happened! It's difficult to describe, but as the plant passed from my friend's hands to mine, a warm, exhilarating feeling came over me. It was the darnedest sensation!
At first, I suspected a touch of sunstroke or maybe a menopausal flush or perhaps a tsetse fly sting - but it was such a nice, euphoric feeling that I soon realized it could not be due to any physical or medical discomfort. The feeling persisted and, for the first time, planting that gift rhododendron wasn't the usual ho-hum chore it had always been but was actually a fun experience. The thought occurred to me - could I be on to something - a heretofore hidden quality of plants that excited and titillated.
I knew I had to find out if what I had experienced was a one-time fantasy or something real. So I decided to conduct a thorough empirical investigation Reasoning that the sensation was somehow related to the transfer of plants from one person to another, I began to share plants with others - and, in every case, I got that good feeling again, whether I was on the giving or receiving end. I expanded my experiment and found that plants grown from seeds or cuttings received from others or given to others had the same power. I checked and rechecked my findings countless times so it is only after many years of exhaustive experimentation and painstaking analytical evaluation that I can now announce the validation of the technique. (It also meets or exceeds Environmental Protection Agency regulations.)
I named the technique "altruism" from the French word "altruisme" for "others". I even arranged to have the word listed in dictionaries along with its definition: "regard for and devotion to the interest of others". Modesty precludes me from claiming any credit for coining this name - and I deliberately made no reference to plants in the definition lest my hybridizing friends would think I was grandstanding.
Now, what altruism does is infuse plants with a rare and powerful additive known by the botanical term "peoplescence". In addition to its many other amazing attributes, peoplescence is the only thing I know that actually benefits the grower more than the plant. I don't really understand exactly how it works, but apparently peoplescent plants give off some sort of subtle sensory stimulus that makes one feel good. (Author's Note: It may have some medical application.)
Altruism requires no special solutions, no complicated formulation, no time-consuming soakings, no messy spraying, no expensive hormones. The only ingredient needed is sharing - and even for this ingredient no measuring is necessary. Among its other unique properties is a built-in self-adjusting sensor that if you share to the best of your ability this always turns out to be just the right amount for perfect peoplescence. It's positively uncanny!
All you have to do is share in any way and whenever you can. Sharing plants by cuttings, rooted cuttings, seeds, donations to plant sales is one way. Another is sharing knowledge and experience especially with the newcomer and the young. A good way is sharing enthusiasm by participating in chapter activities - the menial tasks as well as the spotlight jobs. How about sharing your good fortune and health by taking time out call, write or visit those hobbled by age or infirmity. Don't forget sharing the vision of making this earth a garden by getting involved in civic beautification projects. Friendships, fellowships are peoplesceni-producing catalysts. Just take that extra step - go that extra mile.
You can spot the plants with peoplescence in your garden - they stand out like a beacon. Check it out. For example, how about the plants someone - a friend or a stranger - gave you. They sure are peoplescent. And there's the plants you grew from cuttings from a friend who cared. Keep going. Look at those beauties. You say you bought those from that freckle-faced kid down the block who was selling them to raise money for a school project. And don't overlook the plant the gang gave you when you were laid up that time, remember? Man, look at the peoplescence on that gem your daughter gave you on Father's Day. Don't tell me you can't see and feel peoplescence. How could anyone overlook those special plants old friends now gone gave you. Even the sudden mistiness in your eyes can't mask the peoplescence. They make me recall that when business circumstances forced me to relocate suddenly, a wonderful friend "plant sat" with several hundred of my plants for over two years - and you should have seen the peoplescence on those plants when they came back to me. Say, what about those rhododendrons over there by the fence that were grown from seed sent to you by old what's-his-name out in Oregon. You can sense the peoplescence even at this distance. The same is true for that white azalea next to them. Isn't that the one John gave you because you drove him to a chapter meeting when his leg was in a cast? Why, you have a whole garden full of peoplescent plants!
My tests proved that regardless of size or condition, a garden with lots of peoplescence is a garden of beauty - with a happy gardener. All the money there is in the hands of the world's greatest landscaper can't produce a peoplescent garden. It's the one thing money alone can't buy - the one thing ability alone can't create.
The current "truth in advertising" regulations requires that I sound a word of warning. Although it is unfading and lasts a lifetime, peoplescence will disappear into thin air if it comes into contact with any spores of the disease "selfishness". Other than that one enemy, peoplescence is forever.
Nothing else you can do will give you more pleasure, whether you are the sharer or the sharee. Peoplescence - and only peoplescence - is the ultimate reward in growing rhododendrons or azaleas or, for that matter, any living thing.
I don't know why I ever considered patenting this technique. I'm already rich in the only things that matter! (And truthfully, I'm afraid that if I didn't share this discovery, all the peoplescence in my garden would disappear and I would be left with just a bunch of bushes!!)
peoplescence - syn.: when you care enough to give your very best.