Salvaging Salvia

by Christine Berglund

Winter, contrary to what you might suppose, is not kind to Southern gardens. While the cold may not be harsh enough to kill plants like Dahlias or Cannas, as in the North, that small mercy is countered by the rampant, unchecked growth of weeds in the mild winters.

This year is worse than ever, after taking the summer off to heal a broken ankle. The usual fall-garden cleanup had barely been started, but was far from done. It was with greater-than-normal urgency that I took the first spring-like weather to attack the unwanted greenery carpeting my formerly mulched garden border.

Mind you, I had already grieved the passing of a few favorite perennials that lacked my usual tender, loving care. The spot I chose this weekend was the Salvia Nemorosa “Cardonna” bed. It had made some nice purple displays for the past four years, with a lavender backdrop of Clematis Seiboldii. The usual flush of vivid purple was absent from my autumn garden, and I could only find one of the original five plants by the end of summer. I had resolved to replicate that favorite focal point this year.

Taking my gloves and weeder, and beginning my work, I realized this was a big job. The Clematis was so overgrown that I accidentally broke off one of the two stems. By the time I worked my way outward from the fence, I was a little more circumspect in my violent, hacking motions.

My Dad used to boast of using the “two strongest weed-killers known to man.” Then he explained what they were. Not chemicals, not a Japanese hoe like I was using, but “the thumb and forefinger.”

Yes, by this time I had taken off the gloves (literally) and was carefully weeding out, stem by stem, the offensive Henbit and other weeds that were choking out my flowers.

Because of this carefulness and precision, I noticed a few yellowed, roundish leaves where I did not expect them. My Salvia! Four plants were ultimately rescued not only from the weeds, but from the angry strokes of my handtool.

Unlike the fate of the hapless half of the Clematis, the Salvia was saved. I lovingly tucked in the sad-looking plants with a blanket of mulch. The winter frosts were not over, so they could continue to sleep until Spring, when I would give them a good breakfast of fertilizer.

I just knew they would make it! They had survived the neglect of the summer, the weeds of the winter, and the wrath of my hand hoe.

The botanical name of this plant, Salvia, means “salvation.” I was saving the salvation from the weeds that had overgrown the good plants.

It got me thinking about “how we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12, NASB), but we don’t save ourselves. There are steps we need to take to reach salvation, but we don’t choose these steps; nor do we earn that salvation by following those steps.

We are not able to save ourselves!

Sin of any magnitude is a grievous travesty against our perfect God, and renders the sinner worthy of death. It chokes our souls worse than the weeds choked out my garden.

God in his grace knew this from the beginning of time, and planned a Way. That Way is Jesus, and the path to him is outlined in the Bible. Find your salvation there.

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psalm 18:46 KJV).

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet.

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