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

1449. All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar. ~Helen Hayes 

Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child
that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

But where did spring come from? Was it here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.47.53 PM.pngOr here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.50.16 PM.png
Perhaps it was here? Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.53.08 PM.pngCan you see it here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.56.23 PM.pngWas it hiding here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.57.39 PM.pngDid it just leave never to return?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.58.14 PM.png

Why do we even believe it will come again? Just because someone older than we has seen it before and says that it will? And someone before him or her had done and said the same? Do we believe everything others tell us? And then even if that’s true what’s the spark that creates the phenomena and sets it all in motion?

What makes something like this spring up
from what seems like nothingness?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.30.58 PM.pngOr this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.58.50 PM.pngWhere does this beauty come from?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.01.50 PM.pngIs there a grand plan for something like this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.26.04 PM.pngWho could make something like this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.34.06 PM.pngCan you make one of these?
Not grow it. Not graft it. Not clone it. Not start it from seed.
Just create it from scratch?
Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.04.38 PM.pngIs there a purpose for this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.20.24 PM.pngIs this really necessary?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.13.19 PM.pngWhy and where does this come?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.42.12 PM.pngWho could be responsible for something this exquisite?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.13.08 PM.png

Perhaps it’s time to watch the seasons as they pass over the fields, to be still and quieted, to look and listen, to wonder and question, to consider grand divine design and not random happenstance! Maybe then when the dark nights of the soul come, and they will come again and again, and you’re experiencing more anquish than you think you can bear and have little to no hope left, you’ll be ready to meet the Holy One who has and is the only feasible answer to these questions. Then out of gratitude you might even consider inviting Him into your world. He already knows who you are and He will welcome you back into His arms no matter where you”ve been or what you’ve done or not done.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1440. I’d rather have flowers on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Edited quote by Emma Goldman

Natalie, Natalie ever so merry,
how does your garden grow?
With pinks and stock,
as well as tulips and hyacinth,
and a teeny, tiny daffodil.

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But wait, it’s January! It’s wintertime! And tomorrow night may bring bitter cold temps with freezing rain or sleet and snow into north central Texas. So how can it be that her garden grows anything at all right now? Well, you see there’s a table out here in Natalieworld that’s reserved for such things. So how does that work? Is it a lipped table laden with dirt like a flower pot? No, no, no, but there’s the grocery store where she shops, and this time of year, they sell little pots that have already been planted with bulbs and she buys flowers every Sunday because little Natalie Scarberry, like Claude Monet, “must have flowers, always, always” be they cut flowers or bulbs in pots.

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For those of you who are new to my blog or for those of you who may have forgotten, Natalieworld is the part of our house that we added onto the back of the garage for my mother when she could no longer live alone. It connects to the main part of the house only through a small hallway that leads to the laundry room in one directions and the kitchen in the other direction, and so there is a distinct sense of privacy about it. After Mom passed away, I thought  since it would make a bigger master bedroom and bath, James and I might want us to move out here from our bedroom in the main part of the house. But he said no; he wanted me to have it as a studio for all my creative endeavors. So out went Mom’s furniture and in came new desks and file cabinets and book cases and two recliner rocking chairs–et voilà, a marvelous studio complete with big windows and a French door looking out on my back yard with its greenhouse, numerous flower beds, bird houses and feeders. Now as my 3 grandchildren have grown and spent time with me out here they’ve all declared that one day they too will have a Natalieworld of their own.

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“What a happy woman I am living in a garden, with books, babies, birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them! Yet my town acquaintances look upon it as imprisonment, and would rend the air with their shrieks if condemned to such a life. Sometimes I feel as if I were blest above all my fellows in being able to find my happiness so easily. I believe I should always be good if the sun always shone, and could enjoy myself very well in Siberia on a fine day. And what can life in town offer in the way of pleasure to equal the delight of any one of the calm evenings I have had this month sitting alone at the foot of the verandah steps, with the perfume of young larches all about, and then moon hanging low over the beeches, and the beautiful silence made only more profound in its peace by the croaking of distant frogs and hooting of owls?” ~Elizabeth von Arnim

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…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…and work with your hands… ~Excerpts from Thessalonians 4:11 ✝

**All photos taken today by Natalie

1410. Color is a power which directly influences the soul. ~Wassily Kandinsky

Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man,
color is the holiest,
the most divine, the most solemn.
-John Ruskin

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To the sighted man color is undeniably holy, but the sanctity of it goes deeper than the eye. Deep within the human soul I believe color is recognized as tidings from the Father of our world. There is also a holy melody meant for the ears. Pablo Picasso once asked, “Why do two colors, one put next to the other, sing?” He couldn’t explain it nor can I, but there are color combinations that compose the sweetest of tunes. Pink and blue is one of those duos, and together they sing a divine harmony reminiscent of sapphire skies filled with pink ribbons of light. And Richter, a soviet pianist, said, “Music is the poetry of the air,” and I couldn’t agree more because these colorful rhyming couplets fill the breath of my garden with prayer-like chants as well as with the holiness of their hues.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. ~Psalm 148:13  ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1408. The groves were God’s first temples. ~William Cullen Bryant

There is always Music amongst
the trees in the Garden, but our hearts
must be very quiet to hear it.
~Minnie Aumonier

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Who could have ever imagined that dying things would perish in such  beauty, that what once was vibrant and green and full of life and promise, would pass into a second state of glory filled with purpose. For this not the end of these dying beauties but the beginning of what will guarantee the return of the green tree and the flowers and the birds and the bees and on and on it goes. For like the food the green fruit tree puts upon our table, so does the dying leaf and bits of bark feed the soil beneath the trees’ canopies as well as the life that shelters beneath the warmth of autumn’s fallen debris. Autumn is simply the next step in the dance of life’s circling seasons.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death…

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is….That is happiness.” ~Author Unknown

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~Psalm 96:12 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1372. The grass is vibrant. The rocks pulsate. All is in flux; turn but a stone and an angel moves. ~George MacLeod

The garden of God in which we have been created has not be destroyed. Nor has it been abandoned. We may live in a state of exile from it, but God forever dwells in that place and seeks our company. ~Excerpt from THE BOOK OF CREATION by John Philip Newell

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The sun, moon and stars, in their harmonies of movement and light, are further theophanies or showing of God. Shining out of the darkness of space they express something of the inexpressible. “There is no speech, nor are there words,” says the Psalmist, “yet their voice goes out through all the earth.” The sun by day and the moon by night declare the mystery of God. What is it that they are saying? ~Excerpt from THE BOOK OF CREATION by John Philip Newell

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Nature best teaches how to pray, and how to reverence all the gifts the Almighty has given us. She is like a vast outspread handkerchief, embroidered with God’s eternal name, on which we may dry alike our tears of sorrow and of joy; she turns weeping into ecstasy, and fills our hearts with speechless, quiet reverence and resignation. ~Robert Schumann

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Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
~Chief Seattle, 1855

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ~Genesis 1:1 ✝

**All flowery photos taken by Natalie in her yard.

1359. Human beings need pleasure, as in to be thrilled, the way they need vitamins. ~Edited line by Lionel Tiger

thrilled

1. a. A sudden feeling of pleasure or excitement
    b. A source or cause of pleasure or excitement
2. a. A quivering caused by sudden excitement or emotion
    b. A trembling caused by pleasurable excitement or emotion

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O, money can’t buy the delights of the garden,
Nor Poetry sing all its charms:
There’s a solace and calm ne’er described by the pen
When we’re folded within Nature’s arms!
~Edited and adapted poem
by James Rigg

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Surely you’ve been thrilled by something that truly speaks to you, and when it does, your heart bursts with an adrenaline rush? I hope so! For me, is has happened time and time again in my garden during every season. And there is something about all of them that thrills and excites me through and through. But in spring the excitement ratchets up even more so especially when finding those first little green shoots pushing up through the soil or better yet that first bloom that makes me tremble with delight all the way down to my very core. As it sends pure elation racing through my veins, that spicy taste of something thrilling ushers along a sweet taste of hope. For in witnessing another round of earth’s sweet beginning in God’s Eden, I experience the richness of nature’s holy, ancient, and forever faithful design. In knowing that I am so filled with gladness that tears well up in gratitude for the privilege of being alive as well as for being granted time to lead a quiet life and work the soil with my hands in my tiny piece of Eden. Above and below are the first fruits of my labor this year; I planted these tulips last December, and their exquisiteness is taking by breath away day by day by day!

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To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be elated by the stars at night; to be thrilled by a bird’s nest or a flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~Edited and adapted quote by John Burroughs

In trying to please God, we are asked in Scripture to: Make it our goal to live a quiet life, minding our own business and working with our hands… ~1 Thessalonians 4:11  ✝