Garden Lessons

One of the small joys around my home at this time of year is that the dahlias are in full glory. I’m always amazed that they grow every year, and that they are so beautiful. I’ve gotten pretty good at caring for them since they are about all I can grow at my house.

There are some great object lessons and spiritual metaphors to be found in gardens. While some who really love their gardens, like @ciaodavis, could probably provide many more than I, (maybe she’ll add a few in the comments),  here are a few I thought about recently in no particular order.

  • I planted some gnarly little bulbs; really ugly, dirty, and brown. I purchased them based only the picture on the bag they came in so I had to exercise some faith. They have in fact grown to be what was promised; actually more beautiful than the picture. 
  • When you plant bulbs you have to trust that they are growing – even when it seems to take a long time for anything to happen. Waiting is a major spiritual theme. One with which I’m becoming significantly re-acquainted.
  • Plants and bulbs usually come with some instructions. Or you can read up in one of those great garden books how to grow them best. I usually cheat a bit. I didn’t plant them exactly as noted, used the wrong soil, probably over or under fertilize. These plants still grew. That’s grace. I don’t deserve what I got.
  • There is potential discouragement when investing in Dahlias. Forget to stake and tie them upright and the rain can beat them down, break the stalks, or ruin the blooms. Their beauty can lead to small children pulling them up for their pretty mommies. Slugs seem to really enjoy dahlia leaves and they leave their ugly marks. There’s a lesson here somewhere.
  • Plants take a bit of work … even if it just watering. If God doesn’t bring some rain, I have water. Get lazy and the plants just die. I can’t just let go and let God do it.
  • Dahlias, like all plants, and like life, have seasons. There’s the beauty of summer and fall, the dying back season, and the season of renewal. Just like our spiritual lives move through seasons of activity, beauty, recovery, rest, etc.
  • Dahlias are fragile (when planted in containers especially). They need to be protected and cared for in some seasons … like freezing winters that kill the bulb. Forget this and you get the joy of starting over with new bulbs from Costco. Sometimes we need to be looking out for, even protecting, those around us who might be weaker – even if they look strong at times.

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