Planting: Relationship in the Garden

Planting, in the garden, was a very early relationship building activity. Julia and I both love dirt and have a long history with it. As a family, we have always had some kind of garden on our property, and except for a few hot days picking beans or hoeing, Julie and Esther loved being there. During their teen years, they didn’t feel the ownership of the garden quite as keenly but I still preached it as an important way to connect with God, nature, and fellow gardeners.

Now that they are grown, I see that has paid off. They are plant lovers, landscapers, gardeners, people who appreciate things that grow. They both have their own style, suitable to the places they live and the time they have to invest. It’s another thing we love to do together when I visit. There are always things to do in their yards or gardens.

I have always loved that taking care of plants is such a learning experience. Going through the seasonal process of planting, growing, harvesting and resting provides such teachable moments. I have tried to convey to them that a garden is truly a kind of spiritual place. Air, sunshine, water and earth are clearly seen as elements of life. We get to watch the miracle of a dead looking seed respond to these elements and become something completely different. We get to see how weeds can take over and choke out useful plants. Unprotected borders let rabbits and deer in to eat. We have also killed our share of plants, but that is the price to be paid. Plants don’t live forever either and there is something to be learned even in that. I can hardly be in the garden without a God-analogy coming to mind.

Esther lives in an urban community and has a small but beautiful yard. She loves small space gardening, and has a yard where entertaining is easy and fun. Plants thrive in the mild climate in Washington state. Almost every time I visit we go to her favorite garden center and look (well, and buy).

A couple weeks ago I was in North Carolina, where the grass is already green and the trees are flowering. Julie had a day off and we had nothing planned. Of all that we could have chosen, planting the salad garden and working in the yard was what we wanted to do. She too knows that I would rather work in the garden than sit around.

If you discover that planting is an activity that someone in your life would like to do with you, go for it. And don’t forget – plants are alive. We don’t know what they are thinking, if they think, but we know they have likes and dislikes and they seem to know when they are being treated kindly. It’s a bit spooky if you think about it. Makes it more fun. Just sayin’…

Spring Up North

NOTHING compares to a fully loaded lilac bush
NOTHING compares to a fully loaded lilac bush

flowers seem more exciting and glorious after 6 months of winter

flowers seem more exciting and glorious after 6 months of winter

hello tulips, glad to see you
hello tulips, glad to see you

I’ve been “up north” waiting to see spring come, hoping I had my timing right. I think it’s here. The children have lessening interest in their schoolwork, rain has made greenness appear everywhere and swollen the ponds and marshes. The woods are full of trilliums and fiddle head ferns. Mosquitoes follow us in clouds and dandelion seeds float in the air like snow. The garden is 80% planted and the reliable onions and radishes are already making their rows visible. Tulips and petunias are in place. And the lilacs have purple buds almost to the point of opening up – one of the things I wanted most to experience. The sun brightens up the horizon at 4:30 am and it’s still light at 9 pm, reminding me that the longest day of the year is less than a month away. It’s spring, but only for a little while.

fiddleheads
fiddleheads

trilliums
trilliums

There are no days to waste, no extra hours in the spring. Last night the weather cleared after an all day rain. My brother had bought seed corn and potatoes and was not willing to wait until today to plant – after all, he had to work at his “other business” during the day and there was no guarantee that it would not rain again. Best to get at it. He could hardly sit still through supper. We planted 12 rows of corn and put up the electric fence to keep the deer from eating the tomato and squash plants. I know it works because I tested it accidentally. The gardens have a good start this year, almost two weeks ahead of last year’s schedule. Hopes are high. It’s hard to realize that it still could freeze and one cold night could set everything back.

But today is beautiful and sunny, alive with birds (and mosquitoes) and plant life. Spring up north, how I have missed it and how wonderful it is. Just sayin’…

 

garden, with precautions for possible freezing weather (No, no, no!)
garden, with precautions for possible freezing weather (No, no, no!)