Judging Less, Learning More

“When we are judging everything, we are learning nothing.” 
~Steve Maraboli



This life lesson of judging is most difficult for me.  Let’s face it I’m human, and as humans especially in our society today, we seem to judge everyone and everything.  And I think it stems from a human need to be right.  Because when we are right, we think we are more in control.  

What is judging really?  It is forming an opinion or conclusion. And of course whose opinion is right….well mine of course.  At least we each think our opinion is the correct one.

And there is nothing wrong with having an opinion.  It’s hard not to have opinions….we all do.  Our favorite show….I love classic movies and loathe reality TV….best flower combinations or colors to paint a room or favorite veggies to grow and eat.  Yes we all have our opinions.



But I think what bothers me the most about judging, is judging the character or worth of living things.  Case in point….for me recently it was coleus flowers.  From afar they look like nondescript sticks protruding out of the top of the stunning foliage of coleus.  



And in my opinion, I thought they detracted from the foliage.  I even went so far as to consider cutting them off.  Much like some people do with hosta flowers.  I am of the opinion, though, that hosta flowers are pretty.  And many have amazing fragrance, so I don’t cut them off.



It wasn’t until I saw hummingbirds frequenting coleus flowers that my opinion started to change.  I was fascinated watching them stay for a long time at each tiny flower on the stalk.  So I decided to investigate.  Could I be wrong?



Here’s what a coleus flower looks like when you get a closer look.  It is gorgeous.



And if you look at them very carefully, you will also see they have many more visitors than just hummingbirds.  Bees and ants love them too for nectar and pollen.  So how can I besmirch a flower loved by our precious pollinators?  I can’t, and so I only cut a few to bring in for a vase (you can see below).

While I have made tremendous progress not judging nature, and having more respect for the earth and nature over the past 40+ years, I can’t say I have made as much progress with people (especially in our current political climate)…..but that is a story for another post.  I will be away from my computer for a couple of weeks so if I don’t respond to your comment, I will eventually.



Have you judged a plant or critter and learned that maybe your opinion was wrong?  What epiphanies have you had recently about your judgements and opinions?




Judging A Vase



The coleus, pictured in this post, were all started from seed indoors in late winter.  I planted the small starter plants in early June, and thankfully the rabbits did not like them.  One of the few plants they did not eat.  Some have grown to between 2 and 3 feet tall (see picture at top of the post).  



And the vase of the coleus flower stalks has really amazed me…..judge for yourself.



I wanted to take coleus cuttings and pot them up for some winter color.  So I thought I would make another vase of these cuttings.  I can’t name any of the coleus as they came as a seed mix.


I am joining [email protected]Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2017.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

38 Replies to “Judging Less, Learning More”

  1. I fell in love with coleus in Minneapolis and my journey is just beginning. I grew 3 varieties from seed for the first time this year. I quite like the flowers on them and simply let them be, even in the potted coleus by our front door.

  2. Your post has changed my mind about coleus flowers. Previously I’d followed advice to cut them off so that the plant would put more energy into the beautiful foliage. I love what you’ve done with your images!

    1. Oh wow Peter…so glad you loved the coleus flowers and vases. I too had heard you had to cut them to keep the foliage going. But my coleus have grown bigger and better as the flowers have grown. At least in my zone 5b garden.

  3. The conventional thought with coleus flowers of course is that once they flower and the bees get to them, they will set seed, the plant will think it has fulfilled its function, and die off, or at least decline. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think it’s great that you’re letting them flower so that they can feed wildlife. I’ve made judgments about the garden-worthiness of certain plants that I’ve grown in the past in my garden, and then pulled out and tossed in favor of things that are more trendy. But now I miss those familiar staples. You’ve done some very nice processing with your images too.

    1. Thanks Alison…so glad you enjoyed the images….I had heard that too about allowing them to flower, but I found the foliage has grown even bigger and better since allowing the flowers to just keep growing…so I am glad I was feeding the wildlife.

  4. Great observations of the coleus flowers Donna, and of course it is much harder to make observations of people without automatically forming some sort of judgement, although perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong in that in itself, depending what the judgement is. I was interested to read about your success with growing coleus, as I failed when I tried to grow them from seed and have also bought in plug plants but they never really thrived. Yours certainly look stylish in the vase. Hope you are doing something good in your fortnight away from the computer

    1. Really Cathy…wow sorry to hear about the coleus in your garden. I grow mine in pots and that may be why I am getting some success. It did take a few months of seed growing time to get them going so they were good sized to repot. I’ll let you know what I am going to be up to when I return…;0

  5. Love the coleus photos, both with and without flowers. Making judgments is seemingly a necessary exercise for navigating our complicated world but I agree that snap judgments can limit the knowledge and perspective that can come with closer examination. I admit that I generally cut the flowers from coleus because aesthetically I think the plants look better without them. (I’m with you on hosta flowers, though, even if I can’t grow them.) However, if I were to give priority to what supports wildlife, I’d probably let the flowers be. Fortunately, I can supply the bees and the hummers what they need with a plethora of other flowering plants they like and have my flower-less coleus too.

    1. Thanks so much Kris….I can understand finding the coleus more pleasing without the flowers. It is fun to feed those pollinators with all the flowers we grow.

  6. Your comments on judgment made me smile, as I’ve been working on the same for years. Releasing judgment isn’t easy! It is ego-based, often fear-based, wanting to be right and superior. But the spark of creation is in all things, so I try to remember that.
    Coleus flowers is an easy example to illustrate how we can be open to learning new ways of seeing. Love your photos!

  7. Our garden club was asked to judge at the fall fair. Those who volunteered reported finding it difficult and unsettling. We came to the conclusion that as a group we are on the whole non judgemental. Since the discussion it has become a guiding principle of our club. A good feeling.

    1. Oh I love this Susan and would love a garden club like that….it is a good feeling and a great guiding principle.

  8. Years ago a blogger said … my mother always used to say, you have your opinion, and I’ll have the right one!

    Wish I could remember whose mother it was, as the expression has stayed with me.

  9. These are very good lessons. I have a tendency to do the same thing. I have to step back and tell myself, wait…you are but one. But as you say, it’s human to have opinions and to want to convince others of our perspectives. I’ve always loved Hosta and Coleous flowers, but you’re right–they’re really special when you observe them at a close angle. They’re also both great in vases. 🙂

  10. Your kindness always comes through Donna.Glad you noticed the wildlife enjoying the flowers.

    I just made my husband wait in the car while I photographed some fantastic coleus at a shopping center. Sometimes plants are so overused they’re easy to look past. Have a wonderful week.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Susie. Wonderful to hear you didn’t pass by those coleus without getting some photos. Enjoy your week too!

  11. I, too, have seen bees and hummingbirds visiting coleus flowers. I usually don’t cut them off because every plant wants to flower just as most of us want to bloom. Who am I to deny them? I have trouble judging people (strangers) so I came up with a nifty little trick to make myself stop. Whenever I find myself judging a stranger I stop and compliment them on one thing (all in my own head, of course, chicken that I am) — maybe he or she has gorgeous hair, wonderfully tanned skin, or beautiful eye color, or … well you get the idea. It works for me!

    1. Yes all flowers and people deserve to bloom. And I love the idea of finding something good in each person we see especially if we judge them….I do try that but need to be more conscious of it. Thanks.

  12. Your pictures are beautiful and it’s so interesting to see the flowers close up and the bees loving them. I had a black coleus once which I loved but it died in the end. I must get another. They have to be indoors here though, in winter.
    I am quite judgy but I’m certainly learning (or trying) not to be. After all, who am I to be so sure, anyway?

  13. As a gardener it is hard to avoid constantly making judgements. In my view, judging plants is part of the fun. But you are right that we need to keep an open mind.

    1. I agree it is hard not to judge plants and we do have to do some judging….like you I do try and keep an open mind.

  14. very thought provoking post, Donna. I often wonder why people say some insects or animals are ugly – like there is some human-centric standard. In the current political climate there seems a need to try to accept and communicate with people who disagree with us. Easier said than done!

  15. I would say opinions are fine. We all are different and have different opinions. But judgements include a kind of moral authority that says the other person should have the same opinion or thoughts that I do! I may not like coleus flowers, but I can see from your lovely flowers why you do, and maybe my own opinion will change! But if I started thinking you were a poor gardener because you did not cut off your coleus flowers, that would be judgement! On a larger scale, in our terribly divided political climate too many people are making judgements out of ignorance and predetermined prejudice.

  16. I used to be not a big fan of coleus, but now I do like many of its new varieties. After looking at your fascinating picture of coleus’ flowers, I’ll go right now and look at the coleus flowers at my front porch. They are soooo tiny, I might use a magnifying glass!
    As for people, I try not to judge but to understand them.
    Thank you Donna!

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