In Our Sunset Years, Buying Trees and Shrubs Is Like Buying Life Insurance
If you’re 50+, trying to get a reasonable life insurance policy is a frustrating, expensive task. As far as the insurers are concerned, you are two steps away from the grave. (Well, maybe three.)
“Age is the most important contributor to both term and whole life insurance rates. How old you are plays the biggest role in how much you’ll pay to purchase a new life insurance policy. The reason every year inches up the cost of term life insurance is simple math. Every birthday puts you one year closer to your life expectancy and thus, you’re are more expensive to insure—rates increase every year by 5% to 8% in your 40s, and by 9% to 12% each year if you’re over age 50.” — Chris Huntley, life insurance agent at Huntley Wealth and Insurance, San Diego, California
Okay, you’re thinking. I see the title of this blog but don’t get the connection between buying life insurance and buying trees and shrubs. Let me fill you in:
Yesterday, my husband and I went shrub and tree shopping. It wasn’t a bad winter here in the Chicago area (Well, not for us because we got out of Dodge), but something went wrong with our 20+-year-old redbud tree, our privets along the south side of our property, a shrub that will remain nameless because I simply can’t remember, and several of our miniature boxwoods that encircle a bluestone patio.
My garden is my temple. I tend to it with loving care, backbreaking weeding, watering (except for a “summer” like this one that feels more like early October), and with a sense of wonder at how flowers and plants decide to return year after year—most of them— in all of their glorious colors, designs, tactile differences. I spend a lot of my money on my garden, but I can justify the expense because, the way I see it, the garden is an extension of my home—an integral part of the design to be used and enjoyed.
The saleswoman at the garden center read the tag on a multi-colored bush perfect for the empty corner where a hydrangea died over the winter.
“Well,” she said. “This shrub should grow a couple of inches a year and reach a height of 5′ to 6′ in maybe six or seven years.
“Great,” my husband said. “We’ll either be blind or half-dead or in a senior home by that time.”
The saleswoman in her 20s didn’t really connect. All she could think of was that her shift ended in 10 minutes and that she craved a hot dog with everything on it.
“How about this one?” my husband asked, pointing to another bush.
He looked like one of the gangly clematis vines hanging on for dear life on the trellis along the side of our deck.
“This sucks! Either we pay out the nose for a mature bush or tree or we settle for a little nothing of a plant that we’ll never be around to see when it’s full grown.”
I never envisioned the day when we’d suffer the consequences of aging in the garden. I anticipated physical and mental insults. But decisions about shrubs and trees? Never.
If there is a moral to this story, it would have to be this: Buy trees and shrubs when you’re young so you can age together.