As Shawn and I finished preparations for the Easter feast I noticed three empty vases on the counter. She had a plan, of course. She handed snippers to our adult children (Amanda and Michelle, Daniel and Robert, youngest is twenty-nine) and sent them to the garden. “Go out and pick bouquets for the table.” Consider that statement and the blessings contained therein.
- We have a table.
- We have children to gather around that table for food and fellowship.
- We have a garden.
- In that garden, despite the unusually cold March, we have blooms galore.
- Those blooms arrived just in time to help us celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Amid much tittering and finger-pointing at whose bouquet deserved the title “Lamest,” the flower arrangements took shape. One brave soul snipped a prized tulip from the overflowing container below the kitchen window. As I took in the moment and pondered the variety of blossoms in the vases I paused to give thanks. The young people, on their search and discover mission, uncovered treasure after treasure as they scampered from flower bed to flower bed.
May I never lose the awareness that God’s choice location for Adam and Eve was a God-planted garden. What a promising beginning!
The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Genesis 2:8
Time flies when I’m in the garden. At 6’3” tall, I find myself on my knees most often as I tend the beds. That posture plus the solitude represent a good opportunity to pray – thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and praise. The weeds I combat religiously remind me of the creeping damage that unchecked sin can do in my life. Like a child discovering the wonders around him, I can celebrate the moments of victory as I see a bud on something I thought to be dead or note a new sprout pushing its way heavenward.
Want to join me in the garden? Here’s the how to for becoming a gardener.
Let’s stop focusing on the size of our space or the abysmal soil we must work with. Forget about the air-brushed displays of perfection we uncover in the pages of the coffee table garden books. Learning as we garden is half the fun. I learn almost as much from my failures as I do my successes. Gardening is persistent that way.
If turning the soil to create a garden bed seems daunting consider the use of containers which lend themselves to easy experimentation and plant rearrangement.
Pick a spot.
May I suggest starting small? Most of us do not have budgets for a professional design and installation. Our gardens evolve over time, and the planning and planting bring hours of exercise and enjoyment.
Shawn and I rented a house from a farmer in the early years of our marriage. He showed up with his tractor and tilled a space for us to garden. I knew little about the process but determined to jump in. The ancient clerk at the local feed store burst into laughter as I placed my order for several pounds of corn and bean seeds. “Son, how big is your farm?”
We sowed four rows of beans one Saturday afternoon, each fifty feet in length. The crop was bountiful beyond expectation, but for several weeks beans consumed our free time—weeding, picking, snapping, stringing, and canning. I gave beans away by the bushel and even shipped a batch to my Mom who lived three states north. As the bean vines slowed production an expert gardener told me to apply fertilizer and I would see a second crop in a few weeks. I chose the lawnmower solution instead. That experience taught me the importance of scaling my gardening plans.
But what do I choose? What will grow in my spot?
Make friends with that gardener in your neighborhood, the one with the stunning displays. Pick his brain for what works and does not work. Chances are good that as he senses your determination to garden he may set aside a plant or two for you when he thins and divides his beds. At the least you will gain an idea of plants which do well in your area.
Where can I get plants?
Starting plants from seed is rewarding, frustrating, and time consuming. Every gardener should try it at some point so we gain an appreciation for the price of ready-to-plants. Usually we want our garden to mature faster so plants from the garden shop become our choice. I’ve also found good selections and great deals at the (permanent) huge flea market in our area as well as at the farmer’s market.
We should consider pacing our shopping and plant acquisitions. I’ve purchased plants which needed more space than I had to offer. I’ve uprooted plants after installation when I discovered I had purchased the wrong plant entirely or placed the right plant in the wrong spot. I’ve vigilantly eradicated certain selections which proved to be aggressive weeds instead of the lovely bloom displayed on the tag or package. Forgetting my space and my budget in the middle of garden shop loveliness is easy to do.
Care for and enjoy the crop.
Get in the garden at every opportunity and observe. Add a lawn chair or bench or porch swing for those extended sessions of drinking in ice water while marveling at the bounty. Shawn and I have learned to invest time in discussion, sketching, and planning before we grab the shovel.
Garden maintenance is a reality, people. We may design and plant for low maintenance, but some care and tending is required to keep the garden at peak display. Note that the first garden, Eden, had the same need.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Genesis 2:15 NASB
One hundred percent of what we do not plant will not grow. As my children placed their vases around the table I recalled a principle from God’s Word. The context for the verse is generosity in giving but the principle derives from the gardening arena…
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6 NASB