The yard-changing magic of de-cluttering

Less is more, or so say the experts. Personally, I have not felt the allure of the new “tiny home” or other minimalist trends but can appreciate the reasoning behind them. Our possessions are often burdening us! Most of us could benefit by simplifying many physical aspects of our lives.

It is no different in the garden. It would be wise to let go of plants that are high maintenance in favor of a shorter task list. Maybe, just maybe, one CAN have too many daylilies. At the very least, one can have too many of the same kind of daylily or iris.

In the now-popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo instructs her devotees to hold each item in their hands and decide if it brings them joy.

Unfortunately for some of us with large collections of plants, that answer would be different at different parts of the year! Today, as I hold a small mesh bag with a few daffodil bulbs in my hands, they actually DO bring me joy. That’s probably not considered “normal” emotionally, but I do have a very real picture in my mind of the blooms that are hidden deep inside their papery skins. That hope brings me joy!

In May, when the flowers are spent and the foliage is yellow and ugly, the answer will be a little different. Of course, I won’t be holding yellowed leaves in my hands in May, I’ll be tucking them behind a clump of daylilies that will have just grown tall enough to hide them! “Until next year…will be running through my mind, with less joy than I experience today with the new bulbs, and the excitement of a new variety for the garden.

Then, there are other plants that are more obviously just taking up space. They add no real joy except for a few days while they bloom, and require a lot of work to maintain. Some of these have already been purged from my garden, others are earmarked for giving or selling. Still others may bring joy for a time, but not enough to take up space and time, nor to devote backbreaking labor.

So the garden is renewed by the gardener’s own renewal and conscious exercise of good judgment in purging the less desirable plants. Or, as the “Kon Mari” method calls it, “tidying up.”

This concept may be a new one for some, but it’s quite an old one for Christians. We are told to get rid of anything weighing us down or preventing our focus on Christ and the race we run as his followers.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NASB).

It might be easy to dismiss this passage as yet another one that tells us to get rid of the sins in our lives, but the word “and” comes between “every encumbrance” and the obvious “sin” of which we may or may not need yet another reminder to purge.

What if some of those encumbrances are not sinful at all, but they do keep us from running the race with the endurance we need?

Like the hundreds of heirloom irises I’ve given away, they may just be things that take too much of our precious time.

Not all time spent in recreational pursuits is an encumbrance, obviously. Some is. Find it and “tidy up!”

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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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