Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Native growth

Some neighbors arrived today to dig up my yard. I'm good with that.

I'd advertised "Native Plants Free" on Craigslist, and apparently a lot of people want native plants. The first to arrive took one look, said, "Oh, it's just forest," and left. The next one dug up ornamental grasses and ferns. The gardeners who just arrived need "everything, please." I point them to the forest floor where we are pruning away overgrowth to establish azaleas and other ornamentals.

They've come prepared, they think. They've brought shovels, a pick to loosen the ground, a pickup truck for hauling, and high energy. But I doubt they'll take as much as they hope to. It's hard physical work digging shrubs and ferns from the ground. I warn them that even if they dig deep roots, the leaves will need to be pruned back hard before replanting the shrubs.

I tear a few woody branches off our boxwood and other shrubs, showing them how to prepare cuttings that can fill their enormous hillside.

"You really have to take off all that greenery?" the lady asks as I strip off two thirds of the leaves. The green falls to the ground to compost, leaving a stubby wood stem with a few pitiful leaves on top. The couple looks too kind and "merciful" to do the brutal work required for a transplant to survive or thrive.

I'm firm on this one: "Yes, otherwise the stem can't pull enough water up to sustain the leaves." It's a lesson new gardeners learn quickly as heavily leafed cuttings wilt and die. Most of the plants in our courtyard have come from such cuttings. Our boxwood hedge started as 4" clippings from Mom's boxwood. The yew tree beginning to hide the side stair began as a little trimming from a friend. Same with the shrubs in the garage planter.

I wonder if these people have the heart needed to create a beautiful garden. Do they have the dedication and discipline for regular watering until plants are established?

As I head back in, I shake my head. My garden's a wreck after several years of neglect, due to studies and other interests. The bones are good and the plants established, so from a distance, it looks tame and orderly. Get closer, and the truth is revealed. I need to go through and completely weed and mulch... after I trim the skeleton back into shape.

I wonder what parts of our spiritual lives are in the same condition. Good beginning, strong growth, then overgrown or neglected. In need of severe pruning. God help us to withstand the hard cutting needed to make those areas flourish again!

Read more:
*This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV

*Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

*And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 5-6 NIV

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