Chapter 6 discusses “Gardens and Gardening,” and Edith applies some of the same principles as in other chapters, that people don’t necessarily need to become experts, get a degree, start a farm, etc., to participate and benefit by doing a little gardening, but they can start small, as she did with what we would call now container gardening, or with a small space of land. She lists many of the benefits of gardening (exercise, contributing to rather than taking from the environment, the pleasure and anticipation of planting something and watching it grow, etc.) and a few of the many Biblical allusions to planting.
And while I understand and agree with all of that, I have to confess, I am no gardener. My husband had a garden for a few years, but it was a battle royal to keep bugs from destroying it, and at certain times of the year it was more pressure that relaxation to keep up with it. I have not been able to spend more than a very few minutes on my knees since TM, even with a pad, so I am not keen to go start a garden myself. I have thought of starting some squash growing in a container or two, since often what I find in the store is so sad-looking, and have also thought of growing some herbs. I’d have to figure out better ways of battling the bugs – I cringe at spraying pesticides over something I am going to eat.
I do a little better with ornamental plants. Somehow both at our former house and this one, rose bushes have flourished despite me, not because of me. I think some of my first plants were hanging baskets, just the basic petunias, impatiens, and begonias. Last year I tried verbena for the first time, and this year some blue lobelia and pink Gerber daisies. At our last home there was a purple hydrangea bush that I just loved and wanted one here: the one I planted last year is putting forth buds (I can’t remember what color I bought, though. 🙂 Either pink or blue, as they didn’t have purple, but I think the color of the bloom primarily depends on the soil, anyway. I’m excited to see how they turn out). I do want to plant some bulbs some time for early spring blooms.
With this chapter, as well, as the others, if we have little or no experience at all in the given topic, we can start out small, learn as we go, and expand. I do enjoy walking around the plant sections at stores and seeing what kinds of things are there and wondering how I can incorporate them.
I do love how flowers can brighten up the area. We had none right next to this house, and I’ve enjoyed planting some since we’ve been here (oddly, the previous owner planted daffodils and a few other things behind the shed and in an area of the back yard that can’t be seen from the windows. Haven’t figured that out yet.)
This one came with this variety of plants all together: all I had to do was transplant it into this container. It has filled out nicely.
One of the spiritual parallels I’ve learned most with the small experiences I’ve had with plants is that of John 15:2b: “every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” The few that I have worked with need to be cut back sometimes. If they’re just let go, they may continue to grow to an extent but will look scraggly and sick or may even stop growing altogether. Cutting back – pruning or “deadheading” the spent flowers and even sometimes cutting back what looks like perfectly good growth – makes the plant, full, lush, bushy, healthy, ad produces many more flowers. This is one of the most comforting truths concerning suffering and loss: we may not know why God took a certain person or thing or closed a certain door, and there are many Biblical reasons for suffering, but one is this: we will grow spiritually in ways we would not have without that “pruning.”
More discussion on this chapter can be found here.