The Right Thing To The Root

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A tree's leaves may be ever so good,

So may its bark, so may its wood;


  I picture right now my colleague Joe Boggs trying to relax on this Sunday afternoon as I add this bygl-alert, casually opening the post, and as he reads through it, realizes that I am baiting him to elaborate upon this short teaser. He is the lead author and chief champion of the newly updated “Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens” Fact Sheet that is now available online from OSU Extension at:

  The lead-in above of the first two lines of the first stanza of the Robert Frost poem “Leaves Compared to Flowers” yield to the last two lines of the stanza below in an obvious way relative to the fact sheet (soil is key to roots is key to plant health).  Of course, with poetry there are layers of meaning. Interpretations of the overall poem include such sentiments as: “Frost talks about how a flower may be something better to look at on the outside; however, the leaf is better on the inside. The speaker ends up selecting the leaf that he can trust in the end…The poem is a reflection on his struggle to maintain his self-identity and not give in to a more superficial life. Frost seems to have given up his false front of happiness and given in to his inner depression…”

  But the simple horticultural punchline to Frost’s stanza is this:

But unless you put the right thing to its root

It never will show much flower or fruit.


Joe, something more on the fact sheet?