From the August 1981 magazine.

Like a Rose

EXTENDING along the front wall of our house is a permanent, brick flower box. When we first moved into the house, I noticed the most neglected and unattractive plant of the lot, growing in one corner. It stood almost as tall as I and was covered more with thorns than with foliage. Though we watched that following spring and summer for blossoms to appear, none did.

In casual conversation one day with my neighbor, an amateur gardener, I asked if he thought I should uproot this monstrosity and replace it with an azalea. He simply remarked that it just needed care. The following day, I returned home and found that my neighbor had volunteered his gardening services. He had pruned back the bush to almost nothing, and the cut ends had been coated with a black, tarlike substance.

-- J. H.

Columbia, South Carolina

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