This photo is of a rather stunning plant I bought in the presence of Prince Charles two years ago. Alright, so he wasn't exactly standing next to me pointing out the reasons I should buy it and reaching into his wallet (or that of his minder) with a gallant, "No, I insist; allow me." That would be exaggerating slightly; but it is true that I bought it at the Sandringham Flower Show and PC was there. Nor did I need its features explaining. It is a purple flower. End of discussion.
Having brought it home, I planted it among the other purple flowers of less royal provenance and enjoyed its beauty for the rest of that summer. I left its plastic plant marker in situ so I could remember what to expect the next year. However, last year all I had on display was the plastic marker and accompanying bamboo stem support but not a sign of the plant itself. Letters on the matter to Highgrove House were returned unanswered. I stopped short of writing to my MP. The bare patch in my flower bed served as testimony to my failure. In the autumn clear-up I removed the sign and the support and emotionally moved on.
However, this year in among the foliage I spotted my errant plant: not in the place I had rooted it, but about 18" over, partially hidden beneath the over-zealousness of a (purple) buddleia. How on earth it had moved is beyond my gardening know-how, but the fact is it is back, as glorious as ever, and I had almost missed it.
Now, as writers, we have our eye on an end goal. Publication, recognition, opportunity, providing a word in season. Whatever we hope for, we spend a great deal of time looking for it, and measuring our success or otherwise on the evidence of what we see. Perhaps, metaphorically, we find ourselves gazing wistfully at a bare space where once there was beauty and blossom with the hope of further fruit. We ask ourselves reproachfully whether it was our neglect that stifled future growth? Or did we go at it too hard and kill it off by our ill-judged efforts?
The Bible teaches us that there is a time for everything: a perfect moment for what God is purposing. I don't know why my flower disappeared last year only to re-emerge further along the garden. But I do know that if I had continued to stare at the place of failure instead of looking at the bigger picture then I would have missed this beauty. God knows what seeds have been set in each of us and the time for their flourishing. I want to trust my growth to Him - whatever and wherever.
Janey Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Norfolk and on the Thought of the Day team at Premier Radio. She leads the ACW small group Brecks, Fens and Pens and is the ACW Groups Co-ordinator. She is currently finishing her first novel.