What we need

The orchids in Jamaica cover the most dilapidated of structures, so resplendent in their breathtaking glory that the countryside appears to be a paradise. Here in Tennessee, the plants that grow with such vigor are mostly flowerless weeds.

As a teen bride, I breathed a wish as I gently caressed these magnificent flowers that I could grow them one day. To date, I have now managed to preside over the short lives and untimely deaths of a few orchids. None have survived my black thumb in a non-tropical climate.

Even an old friend from Colorado has been able to keep another Jamaican native beautiful in her home. Her poinsettias rival those grown by florists! Mine are just sad.

This doesn’t by any means signal horticultural deprivation nor even failure. Even some tropical plants have survived and flourished in spite of the challenges. The brugmansias started from cuttings grew into eight-foot trees with pink and yellow fragrant trumpets….until last winter when they died down to their roots in an unheated garage. They had become too big to move into the house!

We are told to be careful what we wish for, because we may get it. Those brugmansias were a lot of work, especially for my husband as my “yard boy.” He was kind enough to indulge me by hauling those heavy pots indoors each autumn, until they became too big. But how many times do we fail to realize that we have something for which we didn’t ask, wish, hope, nor pray?

So often it is something even better. When we moved to a state where the iris is the official state flower, I had no idea that so many amazing varieties of iris existed. Who knew that iris hybridizers had developed “space age” irises with beards that flattened and lifted off the petals into spoon shapes or horns? Who knew they came in so many intense colors? Well, I didn’t.

The humble daylily was not interesting enough to earn more than a small patch behind the ugly heating unit on the far side of the house. Then the Garden Club featured one meeting at the home of DeWayne, a daylily hybridizer. He generously gave us all a couple of daylily starts to take home, and it has become one of my favorite plants to grow.

While others may stalk the wild asparagus, I managed to stumble upon purple asparagus. Previously I had hated the vegetable, but now it has a place of honor directly behind the “pergarbor.”

Other happy accidents include thunbergia, asarina, angelonia, nigella, and torenia.

A month ago I found myself hydroplaning on a slippery road, in a heavier vehicle than I normally drive. It was our “good” car, not worth enough to insure for collisions but great for hauling garden supplies and traveling. I prayed for the safety of the vehicle as it spun around and went into a rocky ditch. How would we manage without “Big Red?”

Well, the good Lord didn’t answer that prayer, just as I never was able to have orchids. But as the doctor at the emergency room said, I was blessed to be alive and walking! The paramedic had said the same thing, only he mistakenly used the word “lucky.”

God answered a prayer in a way I didn’t expect nor even hope for; since the accident, the migraines that had plagued me almost daily for so many years have been minimal. Hopefully, my attitude will be the same as Job’s if they do return, but it has been an amazing respite. More than that, it is a reminder that God answers prayer — often differently than we expect.



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