When I was younger, flowers came in a bouquet. I appreciated the end result but had no interest in growing them myself. Cutting out sod, tilling, lugging bags of mulch, and good soil was just too much trouble.
If I planted some annuals in the Spring, they looked lovely until the weeds invaded the flower bed and grew and grew to twice the size of the flowers and finally choked them. So I resorted to ground cover but even then grass grew up in between the plants.
I would go for a walk and admire the beautiful gardens in my area. Some were manicured and looked like the colourful gardens you see in Canadian Life. One year my friend invited me to Canada Blooms. I marvelled at the landscapes—everything in its place, colour co-ordinated, and planned so that there would be blooms from Spring through Fall. Flowers and bushes displayed in gracefully graduated levels from front to back. Someone had designed and laboriously followed a pattern that left me in awe.
Then I retired. With some extra time available (until people realize you’re retired and you are inundated with volunteering requests), I decided to ‘try my hand’ at gardening. I actually found digging in the dirt to be very therapeutic; it truly was a positive influence on my well-being. I felt calm; any concerns I had took a back seat to the task at hand even though it was mindless.
In life, my general approach is impulsive and passionate. At work, I would have all these creative ideas and I would rely on my people to point out all the steps that needed to be taken to make them work. So you can imagine, without anyone to put things in proper perspective, the result of my gardening efforts.
I ended up with a plethora of annuals and perennials of various heights higgledy-piggledy over the flowerbeds. Although my garden may surrender to chaos, it gives me pleasure and, other than a few tweaks, I’ve kept it this way. I call this end result my English garden.
Every year I’m surprised at what the birds and bees transplant and what survives the winter. When my perennials appear in the Spring, it feels like old friends coming to visit. As I remove the leaves that have kept my garden warm during the winter, I marvel at the miracle of regeneration.
A Master Gardener I’ll never be. Names of some of the plants escape me but I can tell you when they will bloom during the season and what colour they will be. Psalm 104:14 sings praise to God, “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth.”
I have become fascinated with the weather—the weather network is forever my reference. Before I started gardening, I never thought much about the rain (other than its effect on my hair). There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it’s sinking in around your begonias. And, then there’s the wind! How it strips my peonies of their velvety petals. It’s amazing how all of the things on this earth are intertwined and connected. Again we read in Psalm 104:16, “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.”
Gardening has taught me many things—most importantly, patience. I’ve often prayed to God for patience. It is a character trait that everyone wants to possess but few want to develop. We want patience, but we want it right now. It is developed through delay and that happens with a garden—sometimes a flower or shrub does not bloom for a year or two, maybe more.
Another virtue that one needs when gardening is perseverance. For some reason I cannot grow delphiniums. But every year, I persevere and buy one and it’s never to be seen again. I might never see the fulfillment of a tall, graceful delphinium in my flowerbeds but I’ll keep on trying.
Few of us have the luxury or discipline of hours of uninterrupted solitude with God. Gardening gives me that time to be reverent, to revel in a time of quiet meditation.
Sometimes the hardest part about gardening is making the time to appreciate the awesomeness of God’s marvellous creation, to take that time on the patio or deck to drink in the beauty and thank Him for the opportunity to be a partner in caring for it.
“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditations be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:31-34)
Reprinted from Glad Tidings