Pick your flowers – Look, See, Pray

A feeling of virtuous exhaustion rests on my shoulders. I’ve been hard at work in renovating my garden; it has been rather ragged over the last few years. The previous owners were keen gardeners, but in their latter days couldn’t keep on top of the work.

It’s now at the point where the front garden is looking decent, and waiting patiently for the plants to perform their colourful dance of the seasons. Time to put my feet up? No chance!

It’s time to tackle the back- an expanse of overgrown shrubbery with lurking horrors… ivy run rampant and brambles concealing their thorny embrace under cover of the overgrowth. The last person to go in there was lost for a month. Well, that’s a slight (complete) exaggeration- but not about the ivy and briars. So today I filled my garden waste bin with pruned branches from two bushes and one fence.

It is amazing how much more light is coming in.

Heleniums in full splendour

The only problem is that I will have to find more flowers to fill the gaps and make it a place to sit and watch nature frolic. Our local fox popped by the other day. Birds are enthusiastically plundering the feeders. Butterflies too: Orange-Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, various Whites, and one Red Admiral.

So I’ve had to pick flowers so I’ll be able to pick flowers! Flowers for the bees, the hoverflies, the lacewings… flowers with different shapes and colours, suitable for differing creatures. Flowers that will be out for weeks, or will follow on from the early blooms into the autumn. Daisies and echinacea, astrantia and gladioli, tulips and roses, dahlias and heleniums. Then herbs like thyme and sage, rosemary and mint- adding perfume and flavour.

I’ve had to choose some annuals, starting from seed in March/April, some biennials that are sown this year to flower next year, and a selection of perennials that (in theory at least) will keep performing year after year. Gardening is really a search for perennial perfection: working with nature to outperform nature!

Is it all worth it?

Watching a garden change and develop is quite a bit like pastoring a church- but the participants don’t answer back. The ground must be prepared, dug and fed. Weeds, especially perennial weeds like dandelions and docks, have to be defeated- or they will take over. Surprising amounts of water are required- and there is ALWAYS another job needs doing!

Free Tip: A good rule of thumb for telling the difference between GOOD plants and weeds is this: if it comes out of the ground with minimum effort it WAS a good plant…

The end result of a garden is what it produces- good fruit, beautiful flowers, a sense of peace and tranquillity, and a place in which it is easy to sense the presence of God. “Picking the flowers” is both the planning and the harvesting of beauty and joy. It is truly perennial perfection that I seek.

My question is now this: will I put as much into “growing my soul” as I have chosen to invest in my garden?

Psalm 1:1-6 (NLT)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.  But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

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