A Garden Carol


The garden was dead, to begin with. No doubt whatever about that. The bent black stalks of the Mexican Petunia stood up like crooked doornails, or like so many legs of a dozen giant spiders fallen on their backs. The icy shrouds of dead crinum leaves were draped gloomily across the ground.

Every chance to do something better in the garden was now dead, along with summer’s delicate  blooms.

This month I was visited in a real way by the ghost of gardens past. My ancient laptop’s operating system had to be updated, but there was not enough storage. That meant deleting the hundreds of garden photos.

As the dreaded and tedious deed was being done, the glories of past garden beds and flowers long gone flashed before my eyes. Memories of the hard work in creating the patio, the apple tree that was struck by lightning, and the huge array of irises elicited alternating smile and sighs.

Then my mind imagined the rattling of chains. Those chains of work in the garden were forged through life by my compulsive acquisition of all types of plants.  The duty to maintain them during the worst of weather conditions is mine to bear, and mine alone. Oh, woe is me!

The moans of garden tasks fills my ears, even in the dead of winter. To others, the wind whistling in the eaves of the house is part of the wonder of winter. To the avid gardener, it is the call of the last few forgotten daffodil bulbs, “Plant meeeeeee!”

Winter is the time when we would rather curl up inside with a seed catalog or a garden book. I like to use the time to do some research on garden subjects that will improve my methods in future gardening endeavors.

Sad to say, some of this research can be more depressing than uplifting, even as I become more aware of common garden problems that can thwart my efforts. I find that the plants I crave will have a high cost in terms of time and hard work, and then success isn’t guaranteed in our harshly cold and wet Tennessee climate with its infertile and inhospitable clay soil. Southern blight, iris borers, and powdery mildew haunt my future!

Are these the shadows of what will be, or are they the shadows of the things that may be only? A garden can change, can’t it?!

Yes; the garden is always changing, and so are we.

We reminisce about the past, plod on with duties — and joys — of the present. We look forward with dread or anticipation about the future…and sometimes a mixture of both.

It is a comfort to us to know the One who is timeless. 

Gardens and hobbies and Christmas geese and gingerbread cookies come and go. And then they come around again…sometimes, sometimes not. They give us joy and allow us to spread joy here as we travel this earthly path. We are thankful for them all. 

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8, NASB).

Our longing and wistfulness about the past is a gift of memory. Our present must be walked circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15). Our futures here on earth are shaped by our actions now, but that’s not the end. 

The garden yet to come is not the one outside our back door, but that one at the center of which is the Tree of Life, with leaves for the healing of the nations (Revelation 2:7, 22:2). 

God bless us, every one!

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