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Now that birthday #62 is in my rear view mirror I am beginning to understand some of the challenges experienced gardeners face such as a knee (or two) that resists bending or the light-headed feeling that overcomes me as I stand after kneeling. But one development keeps Shawn and me in stitches. Often, when a green shoot pokes through the soil in early spring, neither of us can remember what we planted. Certainly this adds a dimension of excitement and surprise to gardening, but at the same time, really? Installation of said plant was just last summer or fall. See The Forgetful Gardener from 2018 and Labels for the Forgetful from 2016 for more laughs and to know that selective gardening memory is not a new occurrence here at Paths of Hope.

I’ve become a big fan of garden tags and invested time last summer to identify and label each of our hosta varieties. At last count we had twenty-five, though I think there were a couple of late season additions. Who can pass up an unwanted hosta in the bargain section of someone’s booth at the farmer’s market?

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Over many seasons of gardening I have experimented with several marking systems. I’ve discounted wax pencils, permanent markers, and highly touted identity kits with their disappearing ink. Now I use the simple, cost effective 2B pencil found at any art supply store. My original test of these pencils in garden tagging began in 2017, and as the latest picture shows the writing remains visible after three years of exposure to the elements. The 2B’s markings may be erased if necessary to enable tag reuse.

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I chose vinyl tags similar to the test tag for my hosta labeling exercise last summer and faithfully printed their names using the 2B. During the winter the squirrels dug in many of the pots and displaced tags. Those rascals! I’m now replacing the vinyl in our gardens with quality metal tags from Metal Garden Markers. Shawn and I like the look and find that we are less likely to step on these improved tags. The same 2B pencil leaves a legible and long-lasting imprint on the plates.

Though the plants are not offended when I forget their names I feel frustration when I cannot recall at will the names of people whose faces I’ve known for years. I’ve read much literature by brain experts and the consensus is, “Don’t panic. It happens.” Thankfully I have enough names for Shawn that when her name eludes me I can substitute “Honey” or “Sweetheart” and she never knows. That trick might not work with the UPS man, though.

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You and I can take comfort in the certainty that God knows our names and will never forget us. This morning I read of Nathaniel’s amazement (John 1:45-51) as Jesus told him (v. 48), “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  Nathaniel made the connection that if Jesus possessed such intimate knowledge about him, Jesus must be the Son of God.

We are plants in God’s garden. Just as we walk the rows and beds and pull weeds or add water or provide nutrients God cares for us. Just as we marvel over the botanical developments and celebrate each bloom God watches over us. He doesn’t need tags to distinguish one of us from another. God has inscribed our names on His hand!

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…”Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB Selected

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Next time I prepare a tag to add to my garden I need to give thanks that my name is well-known in heaven.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Isaiah 43:1 NASB