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Philip Gulley writes, 'Growing up I had an old neighbour named Dr Gibbs. When he wasn't saving lives he was planting trees. The good doctor had some interesting theories on plant husbandry. He came from the 'no pain, no gain' school of horticulture. He never watered his new trees. He said watering plants spoiled them; if you water them, each successive generation will grow weaker. So you have to make things tough for them and weed out the weenie trees early on.
He talked about how watering trees made for shallow roots, and how trees that weren't watered had to grow deep roots in search of moisture. He'd plant an oak, and instead of watering it, every morning he'd beat it with a rolled up newspaper. Smack! Slap! Pow! He said it made the trees pay attention. Dr Gibbs went to glory a couple of years after I left home. Every now and again I'd walk by his house and look at those trees he planted twenty-five years ago. They are granite strong, big and robust. They wake up every morning and beat their chests and drink their coffee black. I planted a couple of trees a few years back. Carried water to them for a solid summer, sprayed them, prayed over them. Three years of coddling has resulted in trees that expect to be waited on hand and foot. Whenever a cold wind blows in, they tremble. Sissy trees. Funny thing about those trees of Dr Gibbs. Adversity seems to have benefited them in ways comfort and ease never could.'