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

1420. The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~Henry Miller

Each blade of grass has its spot on earth
whence it draws its life, its strength;
and so man is rooted to the land from which
he draws his faith together with his life.
~Joseph Conrad

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In what I assume was a poetic conversation with the Lord, Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American lyrical poet, said “God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart.” In another instance, a Quaker and itinerant preacher named Elias Hicks wrote that “the fullness of the godhead dwelt in every blade of grass.” And Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish satirical writer and teacher rhetorically asked, “To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.” Like me, these writers realize that man was meant to be “rooted to the land and therefore to God.” Sadly, however, in today’s world because many no longer live close to the land, the “umbilical cord,” as it were, that used to connect all humanity to the land and God has been severed. In fact there are some who have never even been close enough to the land to reach down into earth’s hallowed ground, and one simply cannot grow roots to connect to concrete and steel or find anything sacred or nurturing in them. Thankfully though, in an effort to reconnect people with the land and to provide healthier food for the residential inner city dwellers of this country there are those who are finding places to build community gardens so that people get involved in caring for the land and reaping harvests from it once again. Equally good is the fact that a fair share of schools across the nation are incorporating habitat gardens into the learning experiences of their students. As a whole we may no longer live in a primarily agrarian society, but as always God helps His children find ways to remain connected to His good earth and to Him. For there is something so very holy in picking the “fruit” of one’s labors in the soil and putting it in the mouth; it is the biblical “manna” that not only feeds the belly but also feeds the soul.

Every blade of grass
 has its angel
that bends over it and
whispers, 
“Grow, grow!”
~The Talmud

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You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. ~Psalm 65:9-13 ✝

**Images via Pinterest and Pixabay

1363. It’s a greenin’ and a colorin’ up as old man Winter slowly goes back from whence he came…

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time-
a day to begin transforming
winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.
-Adrienne Cook

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As it is now, the last few days of winter are looking pretty magical themselves, if you ask me. Color has returned to the earth in places and the grass is greening, and so St. Patrick’s Day has indeed brought enchantment, brilliant and splendid. And where there are but few flowers yet, there is the promise of more of them. And where there are no fruits yet, there is the promise of them. And where there is not food from crops yet, there is the promise of such. Relying on the faithfulness of God’s promises, today and always, we can ask, as did St. Patrick:

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen.
-St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland.

I pray all of you have a very blessed weekend. and that pray wherever there are clouds of darkness in your life, an awareness of the reliability of all God’s promises produces more than enough light to shoo them away.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it. ~Numbers 23:19-20  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1346. Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. ~Heinrich Heine

Flowers always make people
better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food
and medicine to the mind.
~Luther Burbank

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I mentioned in a post recently that every Sunday when we go to the grocery store to do our shopping, I buy flowers to put on my desk. And this week instead of cut flowers, I found a springtime mini bulb garden that had been planted in a pot. It was filled with tulips, crocus, dutch iris, hyacinth, and the tiniest little golden daffodils. The hyacinth in the photo above was just opening when I bought the potted garden, and for days now as it opened further I’ve enjoyed it’s heavenly perfume.And as the week has progressed, the crocus has opened as have the tulips and the iris. Then this morning, the last thing to push out of its papery sheaths were the daffodils, and that’s when squeals of delight could be heard far and wide. What absolute joy and great fun can come from the simplest of things! I’ve heard it said that simple minds have simple pleasures, and if that implies that I’m a simple-minded simpleton then so be it. For as the temperature outside plummets below the freezing mark again tonight, the fact that springtime is happening right here next to computer is just way, way too much fun, and simple as that may be, it brings me more than enough immeasurable joy to care not what others may think of me.

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Some women feel the need to act
like they’re never scared, needy or hurt;
like they’ve been hardened by the world.
I think that’s dishonest.
It’s ok to feel delicate sometimes.
Real beauty is in the fragility of one’s petals.
A rose that never wilts isn’t a rose at all.
~Edited quote by Crystal Woods

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. ~Proverbs 27:9  ✝

**All photos were taken by me; I took them outside however instead of where they sit by my computer because I don’t like the way a flash alters the colors of flowers.

1292. Let me keep company always with those who say “look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads. ~Mary Oliver

For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
~Folliat S. Pierpoint

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Life is huge!
Rejoice about the sun, moon, flowers, and sky.
Rejoice about the food you have to eat.
Rejoice about the body that houses your spirit.
Rejoice about the fact that you can
be a positive force in the world around you.
Rejoice about the love that is around you.
If you want to be happy, commit
to making your life one of rejoicing.
~Author Unknown

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. ~Psalm 96:11  ✝

**Photo taken by Natalie

1215. We are all farmers tending a little part of the Lord’s vineyard. ~Sheri L. Dew

One of life’s gifts is that each of us,
no matter how tired and downtrodden,
finds reasons for thankfulness:
for the crops carried in from the fields
and the grapes from the vineyard.
~J. Robert Moskin

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So James and I are driving along headed for lunch one day last week, and I just happened to glance down a cross street in time to see a house with a large side yard that has established its own tiny vineyard. Fascinated by the prospect, I asked James to turn around and go back so I could get a better look and take some photos. There on 4 rows with 7 vines on each of the rows, whoever owns the house has created what appears to be, at least for the moment, a healthy and prospering vineyard. Sadly however there are no roses at the end of the rows. Why roses? “In wine regions around the world, roses are frequently planted at the perimeter of vineyards. Roses typically require the same type of soil and sun requirements as grapevines and traditionally, rose hedges were planted as an early warning system to protect the health of the grapevines. Early detection of disease or stress on the roses alerted winemakers to take the necessary precautions to protect vines from damage. Roses also add beauty to the vineyard landscape, provide food for bees and offer habitat for beneficial insects preying on undesirable insects that can damage the grape crop.” Unfortunately this is not being done much any more as toxic pesticides are being used instead to control what would harm the vines, and I fear that this is what may be the plan here. But we shall see for I plan to make regular visits to this little suburban vineyard and will be praying that the owners are earth-friendly gardeners.

Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? ~Excerpted line from Deuteronomy 20:6  ✝

**I already knew about roses and why they were planted at the end of vineyard rows, but I opted instead to use this snippet from an article I found on the internet to explain it. Also as you can see, the leaves on the grape vines, as are leaves on most things in Texas, are a bit wilted at midday this time of year due to the intense heat .

1172. The word “miracle” aptly describes a seed. ~Jack Kramer

From one seed a whole handful:
that was what it meant to say
the bounty of the earth.”
~J. M. Coetzee

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What do you see in this photo? Obviously it’s a plant of some kind, but that’s not what I see when I look at it nor is it the true import of the image. Okay, so what more, you might ask, is there to see? Well, first I see a miracle, then I see God’s grace, next I see beauteous splendor, and finally I see a divine promise. Really, all that, in a nondescript, green cup-like object? Indeed I do! This large sunflower obviously has yet to open; nevertheless and even though the flower is not visible, I see great beauty in the fringed “cup” that’s holding what I know to be a stunning yellow sunflower. I also see great promise in it for I know that when the sunflower does emerge and mature, it will proffer an enormous amount of seeds which will not only guarantee ever-lasting continuance but also provide food to sustain living beings. The miracle in it is three-fold: 1.) it came forth from a small black particle buried beneath dirt, pain old, ordinary dirt, 2.) it’s growing in my garden although I did not sow it there, and 3.) it has not only survived neglect and lack but it has also thrived and grown to a height of six feet. As for grace, God’s amazing grace was promised us countless eons ago and this plant is just one more wondrous proof of life that He was and is still the faithful Steward of all that He has made.

Not all things are blest, but
the seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.
~Muriel Rukeyser

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. ~Genesis 9:11  ✝