Backlit spent hydrangea blooms

Struck down but not destroyed

Have you ever wondered why plants called “annuals” only last for one season? It’s confusing. If we celebrate an “annual” event, it happens year after year, right?

And yet, in the botanical world, annuals are the short-lived plants, while perennials endure for years.

It is important to know the difference.

Now that the first hard frost has stricken down the last soldiers of the garden beds, it’s time to carry away their lifeless forms to be buried.

The annuals get uprooted and used for compost. The perennials get cut down, with great care taken not to damage the stems that might bear next year’s blooms.

Hydrangeas are a good example of this. Although they are not always very large in size, many types take two years for the bloom buds to develop. If the branches are all removed or killed by a harsh winter, there will be no blooms the following year.

Other plants with hollow stems cannot be pruned back too severely in the fall, or rainwater could collect inside the exposed stems and freeze the roots.

Cannas should be trimmed off all the way to the ground. In colder climates, the roots are then dug up and taken inside. In southern climates, a good layer of mulch keeps most of them from freezing.

Daylilies should be selectively cut back, leaving some of the green shoots growing during the winter. Some types die back completely, others are considered evergreen because the inner leaves stay green all winter.

It is with the promise of another year’s growth that the frostbitten tops of these plants succumb, first to the frost, then to the pruning shears. It is not a “goodbye,” it is a wistful “until we meet again” feeling in the gardener’s heart as she cuts down the browning vegetation.

We can have a similar attitude in the midst of our own trials. We may be struck down, but not destroyed. Setbacks are not defeat.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NASB).

There is absolutely nothing that can happen to us that can kill our faith, unless we choose to let it do just that!

Feel like you’re dying inside from your trials? Well, this scripture likens it to carrying around Jesus’ dying. There’s one caveat — to let the LIFE of Jesus be manifested, too.

We grow, our life blooms, we produce the fruit of the Spirit. We are then struck down, and we grow again. Maybe in Heaven blooms will not fade, plants will not die. The ones we know and love here on this worldly plane are not of that nature, of course. And there is a lesson here, too.

We are not destroyed or finished off just because we are cut down. No, not any more than the hydrangeas or hollyhocks or the cannas are gone, although every vestige of its seasonal beauty is temporarily removed.

They’ll be back. So will you, if you are rooted in God. Be a perennial!

 

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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