Lessons that Await through the Garden Gate

This spring, I’ve been reminded over and over why I love gardening. I’m no horticultural expert, mind you. There’s just so much divine creativity at work in the flowerbeds that circle my house, it’s hard to keep track of it all.

Not that I haven’t been trying, of course. Ever since I spotted the first crocus peeking out from under the heavy mat of last fall’s leaves, I’ve been chronicling the season’s progress with photos on Instagram.

So far, I’ve captured the cheerful yellow of a daffodil, the tranquil white blooms of the leatherleaf viburnum, the sophisticated shape of the Siberian iris and the delicate columbine flowers that remind me of fairies’ wings, to name a few.

I had no idea how many different types of perennials I actually had until I started doing this. It makes my heart happy to see it all coming to life—some slowly and some seemingly overnight.

I do much more than take pictures in my flowerbeds, of course. There’s weeding and pruning, transplanting and mulching, pinching and (always) more weeding. Along with all that, there’s also been a bit of learning going on.

The lessons pertain to my gardening efforts, but some also apply elsewhere. I won’t delve into the life applications here, but as you read this, maybe you’ll find a few of your own (even if your thumbs are as brown as dirt).

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

♦ How much I’ve actually done in six years. When we bought our house, it was surrounded on all sides by sadly neglected and mostly overgrown flowerbeds. Although this was one of the features that drew me to our home in the first place, it was a lot to take on.

Our yard is still very much a work in progress, but over time, it’s been fun to watch various patches take shape. I’ve even given some of them names. There’s the woodland garden, the peninsula garden, the side garden and—my latest expansion effort—the hosta garden. These little areas might not be as picturesque as their titles suggest, but they’re getting there.

How the colors and shapes in my garden are best enjoyed without the help of a lens. Granted, an iPhone 4 and a digital camera that’s at least eight years old aren’t the best photography equipment. But when I’m looking at my flowers for the sole purpose of looking at them, it doesn’t matter if the wind is blowing the leaves or whether my outdated phone camera can handle the sunlight.

How so many of the plants in my garden remind me of people I love. I think of my daughter Lilly when I catch the scent of the lilies. I watch the giant alliums get taller and taller each day and think of Randy, who waited patiently for six years for me to get around to planting these whimsical bulbs.

When I pass by the “Miss Molly” butterfly bush, I remember how my girl Molly and I purchased this shrub for the sole purpose of giving her a garden namesake. And the magenta peonies remind me of my dad, who dug up root clumps from his peony patch every time I moved to a new house so I could have a reminder of my childhood home in my flowerbeds.

How my yard is like my own personal history book. Where other people see leaves and flowers, I see pieces of my life story. I carried a bouquet of Stargazer lilies when I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding, for example. And I bought my first lamb’s ears plants when we were waiting to adopt Lilly.

I rescued them from a clearance rack at Home Depot for something like 90 percent off the original price. They should have been free, they were so dried out. But I had the idea that my daughter would like the feel of the soft leaves, so I bought them and nursed them back to life in my front yard. (She did, by the way, and still does.)

How plants stretch to get what they need. Maybe they can’t talk, but plants aren’t shy about letting us know what they’re lacking. When you see one craning its neck toward the sunlight, for instance, that’s a sure sign it needs more light. Which leads right into my next lesson …

How it sometimes takes multiple moves to find the best spot for something. I never plant anything without half expecting that, at some point in the future, I’ll be moving it. I used to be timid about this, but not anymore. For me, gardening is like a giant experiment, and nothing beats finally finding that perfect spot where one of my plants can truly thrive.

How much I miss when I’m not paying attention, and how much I see when I am. There’s so much to observe, if only I take the time to look. The brilliant colors, the order in which different perennials bloom, the length of the bloom time for each variety, how large the plants are this year compared to last season, which ones are doing well and which ones seem to be struggling—the list goes on and on.

I admit—I often feel sad when I see the last of the peony blooms drying up or I notice that the bleeding heart is starting to die back. But then I notice some weeds nearby that need to be pulled, and the sadness is replaced by the need to do the next thing.

Come to think of it, that actually might be what I love most about gardening. No matter the season, there is always a next thing.

It sometimes takes multiple moves to find the best spot for something. Click To Tweet

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart and  Chasing Community.

28 Responses to Lessons that Await through the Garden Gate

  1. Lois, I loved the photos of your garden. I just finished my Meeting God in the Garden blog series, and your thoughts fit right in! Blessings to you.

  2. There is always a next thing to do. That couldn’t be more true.
    Love the pictures and descriptions!

  3. Leslie says:

    Lois, Your gardens are beautiful! I loved the pictures and what you have learned. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Such beautiful flowers and observations! I’m a little jealous of your green thumb : ) Thank you for things to think on and thank the Lord for, especially the wisdom on moving to find the best spot to thrive in!

  5. I’ve enjoyed all your Instagram shots of flowers, but this is much better! Thanks for some of the backstory, and I’m so aware of the truth that behind every lovely shot of a pristine garden there is literally HOURS of work! Same with blogging, of course.
    Thanks, Lois, for “doing the work” on both fronts.

  6. Hi Lois,
    It’s so true that a garden promises plenty of hours of diligent work and planning, but I love all the ways it moves you to think and reflect on areas of your life. I also thought it was interesting that you have plants that survive from year to year, since in Florida I throw everything out at the end of summer when the sun’s relentless rays have done them in! 🙂 Love the peonies — and your iPhone 4 isn’t doing too bad! xo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ha ha … I’m almost to the point of thinking a phone upgrade would be a good thing, Valerie … and mostly for the camera. (Plus, Lilly wants to be able to play pool with me via phone and I can’t do that with my limited technology!) So do you replace your summer flowers with fall and winter ones? I guess I just assumed plants in Florida just kept on going forever! (I’ve never been there, can you tell?) Hugs, friend!

  7. Mary Geisen says:

    This is lovely! I used to do some gardening when I was younger but haven’t for years mostly because I live in a condo. However, I learn the most and hear best from God when I am outside walking a path and paying attention to the new details God left for me that day. Thank you for your lessons and your beautiful pictures.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I can totally relate to hearing from God more clearly outside, Mary. I love the pondering I’m able to do when I’m down on the ground weeding. It’s hot and dirty, but it’s also concentrated think time! Thank you for your thoughtful words!

  8. Lesley says:

    Your garden looks beautiful- I especially love the peonies- but I agree with your observation that these kinds of things look even better in real life than they do through a lens.
    I love how there are stories attached to some of the plants and flowers and it’s like your personal history book. It’s a great way to remember special times and people.

  9. I love your description of your yard as your personal history book! It’s beautiful to see things and be reminded of people, experiences, and seasons.

  10. Wow, your flower beds and pictures are gorgeous, Lois. I love the columbines and the peonies best. I might have a wee bit of peony envy. 😉

    And your lessons . . . so good. The thought of not being timid to move plants when you see they need something they’re not getting in their current location? I would have never thought to do that. Which may be why I only have planters of flowers and not BEDS of flowers. 😉 This part of your post reminded me of how we, as moms, sometimes need to advocate for our children when they have needs that are not being met.

    Great post and lovely pictures!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      The thing about peony envy made me smile, Jeanne. That particular plant did much better than all the others this year … you’ll notice I did not include photos of them! 🙂 As for planters … I admit to having planter envy. 🙂 I always admire pots full of all sorts of flowers–at people’s homes, at our local arboretum, everywhere–and I always wish I could do that too. I tried once or twice, but I just have paralysis by analysis when I am faced with so many annual choices at the garden center. So I plant red impatiens in all my pots, every single time! I love your application of advocating for our kids … so good! Hugs, friend!

  11. I’m impressed! Your flower beds are so nice. Wish I had that talent, but regrettably, I have a black thumb, not a green one.

  12. Anita Felzke says:

    Simply beautiful yard. I love the naming of the areas. I also love who the flowers were planted in honor of -most anyway.

  13. Linda Stoll says:

    Funny, I was thinking of resurrecting an old post about flowers to put on the table this week. So many lessons, important ones, we can take away from nature.

    But I might simply be content savoring your delightful observations, Lois.


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