There Are No Guarantees

I’m reading, no I correct that, I am listening to The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters, on Audible, whilst traveling to and from work on the train.  It is about mind management and far from being boring and heavy duty it is a fascinating insight into our nature (The Chimp) and nurture (The Human) characteristics.  

Our inner Chimp, the emotional part of our brain, has evolved to support our survival, and is characterised by feelings and paranoia, it works on impressions and interpretations, not facts.  Our Human mind, is rational, weighs up evidence and reaches careful and deliberate conclusions.  What does this have to do with gardening I hear you asking.   Well, a lot actually.    Early in the book we are told we should hold as our ‘Life Force” several proven values and truths:-

  • Life is not fair 
  • The goal posts move 
  • There are no guarantees 
  •  Everything that happens comes and goes 
  • Disappointments are tough but they need to be kept in perspective 
  • Happiness can be found in many ways 
  • Every day is precious 
  • Its the way you deal with things that gives you peace of mind

Do you recognize any of them as a gardener?  I do, especially ‘disappointments are tough, but they need to be kept in perspective’.

I bought a lot of, what I considered, expensive daffodil bulbs from Waitrose, duly planted them up at the correct time and carefully placed the pots outside the kitchen window so I would have a lovely display of spring daffs to look at whilst washing up. It is a disappointment to see lots of green leaves and only one bud in each pot.  Putting that into perspective, at least there is one bud in each pot, there could be none, and also proving  ‘There are no guarantees’. 

However, ‘Happiness can be found in many ways” and rather than dwell on my daffodils, I looked at the other pots, to see the tulips and anemones are starting to sprout, and I am being positive that they will produce a fabulous colourful array. 


Another ‘Happiness’ truth is the Peony.   I get a great rush of excitement when I see all the little red lipstick shaped shoots poking through the soil, ready for another year.   It’s such a positive sign and guaranteed to bring me happiness.


Finally, ‘Every day is precious’.  How very true, when I walk up my garden path, I am met with the cheerful display of tiny Tete-a-Tete daffodils, guaranteed to appear every year.  This sight makes me feel grateful to still be here and able to enjoy my garden. 


I have to train my Chimp not to get too upset about non flowering expensive bulbs, as my Human knows that it’s the way I deal with things that will bring me peace of mind.   Evidence overcoming paranoia! 


  1. How apt – Maybe you didn’t talk to them enough! Have good swear and tell them if they don’t flower next year will be composted!!!


  2. Hi Ronnie
    I recognise all those sayings and try to use them regularly. It is strange that your bulbs aren’t flowering, I planted loads in the border two years ago and just had lots of leaves. It was suggested at the time that they were too dry. However, I think daffs form the flower in the bulb after this year’s flower in done so maybe it is worth giving the ones you have a good feed, every other week, and keep them watered until the leaves die of their own accord. Then let them dry out over summer before starting watering them again around September, you never know it might work. If not bin them and get some more tulips which obviously do well


    • Hi Helen I Googled “why didn’t my spring bulbs flower?” And lots of reasons came up, the main one is I probably didn’t plant them deep enough in the pots – schoolgirl error!


  3. Ho Ronnie,

    I feel your pain; my daffs i forced way back in autumn for Christmas flowing were all blind. What a waste and disappointment.
    However since winter has been so warm this year many bulbs are flowing outside much earlier than normal so the daff loss isn’t so heavy.

    I’ve since placed them outside and plan on dumping them. Previous experience tells me they won’t bloom next year either.


    • Hi Liz! I thought splashing out on Waitrose bulbs would guarantee a good display. Wondering if it is more to do with climatic conditions rather than blind bulbs. Even more disappointing to think they will never bloom. I may just chuck them in a flowerbed, just in case.


      • Whoops, i didn’t intend to say ho… Silly autocorrect.

        I think the reality is waitrose will source their bulbs from the same big producers as everyone else. I think it’s just luck most of the time or indeed climatic conditions.

        Pop to b&q or similar and buy their trays of bulbs in the green, cheap but they are flowering now and therefore a sure thing. Then either plant them or throw them. So cheap might as well. The trays I bought last year purely for cutting are blooming again 🙂


  4. Well, who would have thought it – quite a few of the ‘life force’ values and truths are exactly what I used to say to my two daughters – particularly the first one, in response to the ‘It’s not fair’ lament 🙂 Never thought of myself as a particularly wonderful mother role model, but it would seem that there were some things I passed on that might have been useful to them in the years ahead! As you say – the phrases are equally apt in the face of nature in the garden or on the allotment – slugs and cabbages and badgers and sweetcorn spring to mind 🙂


    • Don’t we all beat ourselves up thinking we were not good mothers. I certainly do, but that’s when I have to put my chimp back in its box and make my human side work properly. Emotions v sense Xx


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