1454. How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Old-fashioned flowers! I love them all:
The morning-glories on the wall,
The pansies in their patch of shade,
The violets, stolen from a glade,
The bleeding hearts and columbine,
Have long been garden friends of mine;
But memory every summer flocks
About a clump of hollyhocks.
~Edgar A. Guest

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You may have noticed that I’ve been posting lots of photos of hollyhocks lately. Why? There are two reasons: first because they are one of my favorite flowers and secondly because the hollyhock is a flowering plant of such antiquity that it was found at a neanderthal burial site, where it had stood as a silent sentry for eons. And then after the neanderthal era the hollyhock, a member of the mallow family, was grown in religious gardens around churches and monasteries, and hollyhock seeds were included in the cargo on early ships to the Americas.

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So the tall, showy hollyhock has been used in gardens all over the world and for those tens of thousands of years their chalice-like blossoms, when facing upward, have captured and held countless dollops of daylight while captivating mortals and pollinating creatures alike with their winsome ways. The name hollyhock probably resulted when crusaders brought this versatile plant to England. Holy and hoc (mallow) were the terms associated with it at that time. The sturdy plant gained popularity and even became the subject of a 15th-century poem. However, over the years and sadly, at least hereabouts, less and less of them are to be found in gardens, even gardens where they were once considered a staple.

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Those red hollyhocks are at the back of our lot,
and I think they are even taller than 9 feet.

So the tall, showy hollyhock has been used in gardens all over the world and for those tens of thousands of years their chalice-like blossoms, when facing upward, have captured and held countless dollops of daylight while captivating mortals and pollinating creatures alike with their winsome ways. The name hollyhock probably resulted when crusaders brought this versatile plant to England. Holy and hoc (mallow) were the terms associated with it at that time. The sturdy plant gained popularity and even became the subject of a 15th-century poem. However, over the years and sadly, at least hereabouts, less and less of them are to be found in gardens, even gardens where they were once considered a staple. So I’ve been thrilled that the last two years I’ve been having such great luck with growing them. I especially like that they sometimes reach a height of 9 feet or more which means they tower above all else in a garden; also wherever they grow, the flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Miracles are they then? I think so. The first miracle is that all the data needed to replicate this lovely giant and its flowers is stored In something as small as one of my freckles. The next miracle is that for thousands upon thousands and thousands of years the small seeds have not perished nor failed in their purpose. The third miracle is that the Lord ordained pollinators along with the sun, soil, and water, to be faithful guarantors of the hollyhock’s lifeline.

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How could anything be more amazing than that God not only created all that is and devised ingenious ways for everything He made to be replenished, but that he also valued the importance of beauty as well as purpose. The Lord created not just a human body that needs tangible nourishment but also a soul in the physical body that needs to be fed in spiritual ways, a soul that longs for and seeks its beautiful Source.

Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. -Luke 12:23 ✝

**All photos taken  by Natalie; collages created by Natalie

1246. If we were but conscious of our own utter littleness, we would not dare look with contempt on the smallest atom in the world. ~Charles Lanman

Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the sunlight,
and the air was full of the piping of the song-birds.
Long glinting dragon-flies shot across the path, or hung
tremulous with gauzy wings and gleaming bodies.
~Edited excerpt from Arthur Conan Doyle

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Did you know that there’s always a party going on in a backyard. Yes, indeed there is, and the guests frolic on their flooring, the ground, and under the “coffered ceiling” of the sky. Some even “boogie down” underground; thus a lawn, not just the grass, is alive. And the world out there is filled with beasties that buzz, tweet, squawk, flutter, scurry, build, dance, burrow, hoot, chase, pounce, and soar among other things. Not only that but the party goes on 24/7. If you don’t believe me, just step outside sometime, take a look around, and listen.

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Depending upon the season and time of day or night, you might hear a chorus of amphibians, insects a buzzin’, and birds a callin’ or a singin’ or a drummin’. And those noisy birds, for example, just might be a gatherin’ nesting materials, or a feedin’ on berries or insects, or a splashin’ around in a birdbath. Whilst the birds are doing their things, the butterflies and bees might be a fluttterin’ about and a sippin’ on the nectars in flowers. If not that, then you might find a “hophopper” a chowin’ down on a tasty leaf or a dragonfly a skimmin’ across a surface of water. Or you might even find something exotic like my friend in the photos above a lookin’ back at you and gettin’ perturbed because you’re too close to its perch, so close in fact that it raises an arm of warning to scold you. When I find a praying mantis like this one, they are often on a rose bush which is where I found this one. Well actually it was on the trellis where the rose was, but I think he’d made his way from the rose over to it in hopes he could scare off dusk’s unwanted interloper.

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For who scorns the day of small things. ~Excerpt from Zechariah 4:10 ✝

*The collage of praying mantis images at the top created by Natalie from photos via Pinterest

1223. Color is joy. One does not think joy. One is carried by it. ~Ernst Hass

Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud–
We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms our ear or sight,
All melodies, the echoes of that voice
All colors a suffusion from that light.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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From my hate-the-heat perspective the garden being adorned with crown jewels like these in the collage is one of the few saving graces of a Texas summer. If these flowers had voices instead of brilliant colors, I think that even as buds whose colors had not yet been revealed they would start the day off with soft, murmuring melodies. Then as the day’s flames licked up higher and higher and they burst into bloom, their songs would play on but in loud and bold arias so that the bees, the butterflies, and other pollinators would harken to their lusty, changeling voices. And all the while as the harmonies played on, the insect benefactors would suckle on the tasty fare despite the sizzling sultriness. And I, I would remain the envious onlooker because it is only they and not I who are small enough to crawl down into the gloriously-filled caverns of sweet nectars. Then at day’s end in weariness from performing their noisy choruses and from enduring the onslaught of mugginess their songs would give way to those of the white and silver flowery voices that mingle in with the enlarging and marvelous music of the night. As for me, though saddened by their silence and passing, I would have agree with Barbara Kingsolver who said that “in the places that call me out, I know I’ll recover my wordless childhood trust in the largeness of life and its willingness to take me in” again, another day. Another writer once said that in the isolation and silence of winter one can savor belonging to him or herself. And who knows, perhaps summer allows one to do the same but in a different way, especially when that individual is falling short of being thankful for God’s gifts by fussing about the way they are wrapped.

You(God) turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy… ~Psalm 30:11  ✝

**All images taken by me in my yard; not all were taken on the same days

1213. May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with the fairies and talk to the moon. ~Morgan Bergeron

THERE are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
It’s not so very, very far away;
You pass the gardner’s shed and you just keep straight ahead —
I do so hope they’ve really come to stay.
There’s a little wood, with moss in it and beetles,
And a little stream that quietly runs through;
You wouldn’t think they’d dare to come merrymaking there–
Well, they do.

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There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
They often have a dance on summer nights;
The butterflies and bees make a lovely little breeze,
And the rabbits stand about and hold the lights.
Did you know that they could sit upon the moonbeams
And pick a little star to make a fan,
And dance away up there in the middle of the air?
Well, they can.
~Excerpted lines from a poem
by Rose Fyleman

And if ever there were a place on a summer night such as this to look for the fairies at the bottom of the garden, I’d start by peering up into this enchanting, blue clematis bloom.

Praise Him(God), sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars. ~Psalm 148:3  ✝

**Image of blue clematis taken in my garden by me

1154. The blousy, splendiferous hydrangeas are abloom and flourishing with life. ~Natalie Scarberry

Like the oak leaf hydrangea bud in May,
like squirrels that invade backyard  bird feeders
and like train whistles that echo in the hollow
rolling through white pines and serviceberry branches,
her trust, in the shape of soft smiles and morning kisses,
permeates his every breath.
~Edited lines in a poem written
by William A. Poppen

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Harmony followed Spring’s appearance
In the eternal bond of its adherence
Also came the birds and their choirs
And they too were dressed in spring’s attire
Bees covered the flowers, jasmine, the air
When fair was time and time was fair
Blissful daffodils, they bloomed in threes
Over by the hydrangea trees
In the tire swing, my feet brushed through clovers
For the Seraph’s peaceful weather had taken over
I danced in it; I loved the sweet jubilee
That made bloom the little hydrangea trees
The dandelions floated on the bottom of the sky
On days when ground squirrels forgot to be shy
And even butterflies came to enjoy the breeze
Fluttering beside the hydrangea trees
Their pink, blue, and purple blooms
Never appeared a minute to soon
They made life simple; they made life sweet
And so it is I’ve always admired the hydrangea trees
~Excerpted and edited lines from
a poem by Whitney Albright

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. ~Romans 12:16  ✝

**One image via Pinterest; others via Pixabay; collage created by Natalie

1151. Cherish sunsets, wild creatures and wild places. Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth. ~Stewart Udall

Life has loveliness to sell,
all beautiful and splendid things,
blue waves whitened on a cliff,
soaring fire that sways and sings,
and children’s faces looking up,
holding wonder like a cup.
~Sara Teasdale

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Wowed! When was the last time you were wowed, really, really wowed? I love being wowed! I’ve always loved being wowed! And for awhile after becoming a grown up, I spent some hard years when I wasn’t wowed by much of anything! I was frequently overwhelmed but not wowed! Then I started a garden and now seldom does a day go by that I’m not wowed by something. And I know I’m an easy mark because I adore flowers and birds and butterflies and bees and sunsets and rain and oceans and such. Nevertheless, easy mark or not, I still maintain that the Lord has made incredible things and that they are meant to wow us! So don’t just look at my flowers; notice the colors, look at the shapes, and the amazing details like the pistils and the anthers.

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Beauty is nature’s brag, and must be shown
in courts, 
at feasts, and high solemnities,
where most 
may wonder at the workmanship.
~John Milton

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He who can no longer pause to wonder
and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead;
his eyes are closed.
~Albert Einstein

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The point is that when I see a sunset
or a waterfall or something,
for a split second it’s so great,
because for a little bit I’m out of my brain,
and it’s got nothing to do with me.
I’m not trying to figure it out,
you know what I mean?
And I wonder if I can somehow find
a way to maintain that mind stillness.
~Chris Evans

Only those who look with the eyes of children
can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.
~Eberhard Arnold

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He(God) performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~Job 5:9  ✝

**All images taken recently by me in my yard.

1129. Butterflies dot springtime with flitting airy kisses. ~Terri Guillemets

The butterfly long loved the beautiful rose,
And flirted around all day;
While round him in turn with her golden caress,
Soft fluttered the sun’s warm ray…
~Excerpt from a poem by
Heinrich Heine

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Butterfly, butterfly, where are you going?
Do you dine today with the regal rose
Or nectar sip with the lilies blowing
In the golden noontide’s sweet repose?
Away, away, on silken pinions,
Gay guest of Flora’s proudest minions.

Or will you pause midst the fragrant clover
And their humbler viands not despise,
While the proud tuberoses wait their lover
And the pansies smile from their velvet eyes?
Away, away, on dainty pinions
Gay guest in Flora’s fair dominions.
~Excerpted verses from a poem by
Martha Lavinia Hoffman

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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. ~Song of Songs 2:12  ✝

**Top image found on Pinterest; edited bottom image found on the Internet