1278. In the fall each seed is like a child being loosed upon the earth to wait for the blessing of sun and rain to fulfill its destiny. ~Natalie

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks, its insides come out,
and everything changes.
To someone who doesn’t understand growth,
it would look like complete destruction.
~Cynthia Occelli

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“Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising that the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof.  Take that Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin’s point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description.” ~Celia Thaxter

Where I live winters are mild and so poppies must be sown in the fall. After weeks of making preparations, today was the day to sow not only my poppy seeds, but also the hollyhock, larkspur, and bachelor button seeds. Now in a week or so they will germinate, and I shall squeal with delight once more to find little green babies popping up everywhere. Among the other truly amazing things about the sowing process, is the fact that these small new seedlings will survive some pretty cold days and maybe even some ice and snow. But the leaves of trees, many of which have yet to fall, will eventually blanket the ground and keep my babies warm and safe until the spring’s sun urges them upward and onward. And as for me going out to check on them throughout winter’s often gloomy and forbidding days will keep me thrilled and hopeful!

They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest… ~Psalm 107:37 ✝

**Images of poppy seed pods and seeds found on Pinterest; border and special effects via iPiccy

1062. A gardening I did go, a gardening I did go, hi-ho the derry-o, a gardening I did go. ~Natalie

The smell of garden soil
Is in the air.
With patient toil
The musk of earth is freed
From winter’s cell.
~Edited excerpt from a poem
by Alice Prokasky

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What is a garden?
Goodness knows!
You’ve got a garden, I suppose:
To one it is a piece of ground
For which some gravel must be found.
To some, those seeds that must be sown,
To some a lawn that must be mown.
To some a ton of “Cheddar rocks;”
To some it means a window-box;
To some, it is a silly jest
About the latest garden pest;
To some, a haven where they find
Forgetfulness and peace of mind…
What is a garden?
Large or small,
‘Tis just a garden,
After all.
~Edited excerpt from a poem
by Reginald Arkell

Yes, indeed, today was warmish enough and a gardening I did go. For time is running out for getting the flower beds ready for spring. So sit down on the ground, get hands in the dirt, and pull those weeds from around the baby seedlings did I. Then I carefully put some of their sheltering, autumn leaf litter back in place. And from what I’ve seen, the good news is I’m going to have a bumper crop of poppies and larkspur. Yay team!!!! And by the way, ‘tis not just a garden, these toils yield glimpses into the “deeply private moments between the Creator and creation.”

*Cheddar rocks: Limestone found in a gorge in the Mendip Hills, near the village of Cheddar, Somerset, England

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. ~Excerpt from Hebrews 4:13  ✝

524. Gardening: the fine art of soul to soil. ~Jan Bills

But each spring. . .a gardening instinct,
sure as the sap rising in the trees,
stirs within us.
We look about and decide to tame
another little bit of ground.
~Lewis Gantt

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Life! Life has materialized again! On a cool, misty morn of late October, little green slivers of life have emerged into visible existence, life anew made manifest from tiny black seeds scratched into barren soil and sprinkled with water, the very elixir of life itself! And it has come where two losses occurred unexpectedly in my yard last June. When it happened, “the gardening instinct” Gantt mentions kicked in immediately even though it was long after the last rising of sap and well before the next. Sadly, at that time however, the fires of summer were already growing intense, and it was too hot to start “taming” bits of ground. But when temperatures at last lowered in late September, my son-in-law tilled and tamed the new bits of ground for me. It may seem odd to sow this late in the year, but given the mild winters and early to warm up springtimes of north central Texas, the seeds of poppies, larkspur, bluebonnets, bee balm, and sweet peas must be sown in the fall so that the roots of the seedlings have enough time to grow strong and hardy. Such indeed is “the stuff of which dreams are made” for those of us who need flowers for the soul to thrive, who seek revelation of God in a garden, who live close to and find intrigue in the soil from which we came, and who dig the ground seeking His presence in earth’s depths.

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Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. ~James 5:7  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

374. Flowers really do intoxicate me. ~Vita Sackville-West

Flowers have spoken to me
more than I can tell in written words.
They are the hieroglyphics of angels,
loved by all men
for the beauty of their character,
though few can decipher
even fragments of their meaning.
~Lydia M. Child

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Like Sackville-West, “flowers really do intoxicate me” but none more than Poppies and Larkspur. However, until several years ago I’d not had any success in growing either of those two. Luckily, one day at the book store another gardener revealed that the trick here in north-central Texas is to sow the seeds of both in the fall. So I took her advice and the following autumn I threw poppy and larkspur seeds in several flower beds around the yard. Et voilà, much to my amazement, up they sprouted! After the Larkspur germinated, the seedlings grew into fluffy little green mounds that looked way too diminutive and delicate to survive winter’s upcoming, bitter assaults, but that they did. Then as Spring approached and days lengthened and warmed again, the seedlings produced upward growing center stalks, the stands of which my husband referred to as little forests for indeed that’s exactly what they looked like. Then some time after they’d begun their upward advance, he ran in excitedly to tell me that one of my little “trees” had flowers opening on it. And soon all the little” forests” exploded into spiky seas of luscious colors; so inviting was the “beauty of their character,” that I visited them daily as did the swallowtail butterflies and the bumblebees. The bees and butterflies were going for the tasty nectar and I to gaze in amazement at the long-yearned-for new additions to my garden. Although new in my yard, they were hardly new to the world for I’d found out over the winter that the stately Larkspur has existed for thousands of years. I also learned that at some point in time they were given the name Larkspur because one of their petal-like sepals elongates into a spur resembling the spur of a lark’s back toe. Might that too be the hieroglyph of an angel?

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Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. ~Psalm 148:1-3 ✝

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Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

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302. So deeply is the gardener’s instinct implanted in my soul, I really love the tools with which I work – the iron fork, the spade, the hoe, the rake, the trowel, and the watering pot are pleasant objects in my eyes. ~Celia Thaxter

Toward seven o’clock every morning,
I leave my study and step out on the bright terrace;
Here my tools lie ready and waiting,
each one an intimate, an ally:
the round basket for weeds, there’s a rake here as well,
at times a mattock and spade,
or two watering cans…and a small hoe…
~Edited and adapted excerpt from a work by Herman Hesse

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I have raked the soil and planted the seeds
Now I’ve joined the army that fights the weeds.
For me no flashing saber and sword,
To battle the swiftly marching horde;
With a valiant heart I fight the foe,
My only weapon a trusty hoe.
No martial music to swing me along,
I march to the robin redbreast song.
No stirring anthem of bugle and drum
But the cricket’s chirp and the honey bee’s hum.
No anti-aircraft or siren yell
But there’s Trumpet-creeper and Lily-bell.
With a loving heart and a sturdy hand,
I defend the borders of flower-land;
While high over Larkspur and Leopardsbane,
A butterfly pilots his tiny plane;
But I shall not fear his skillful hand,
My enemy charges only by land.
~Alma B. Eymann

So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.  ~Matthew 13:26    ✝

**photos via Pinterest

277. In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~Albert Camus

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A warm and cheery fire roars merrily
And shadows dance about the darkened room.
Beside the hearth a gardener sits and dreams
Of sunny days, of flowers in full bloom.
Some hollyhocks should tower near the fence,
Bright red ones that the bees can’t help but find.
The trellis at the gate again must wear
Blue morning glories, or the rosy kind.
To lend a bit of distance to the scene,
Close to the rear I’ll plant in shades of blue:
The tall and stately larkspur, double ones­
Of course I’ll put in scabiosa, too.
I couldn’t do without a pansy bed­
Snapdragons make such beautiful bouquets­.
Frilled zinnias and yellow marigolds
Add just the proper touch to autumn days.
The flowers grow and bloom with loveliness
Until a sound destroys the fantasy­
A burning ember falls and I must leave
My garden and my charming reverie.
~Helen Bath Swanson

I will sing to my God a new song: O Lord, you are great and glorious, wonderful in strength, invincible.  ~Judith (Apocrypha) 16:13  ✝

239. Blow, blow, thou Winter wind… ~William Shakespeare

How can those who do not garden,
who have no lot in the great fraternity of those
who watch the changing year
as it affects the earth and its growth,
how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?
~Francis King

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Blustery was the north wind that came up last night.  As it ran groaning around the corners of the house, it rattled the windows and doors.  But there were no snow flurries nor threats of icy assaults, no misery other than the cold sting in the sound of creaking tree limbs, in the sound of the rushing gale.  As the Sabbath dawned, blue were the skies and bright was the light from above, but the relentless, chilling winds kept on and in check the thermometer.  The endless gusts and leafy flutterings throughout the day intimated over and over again that tonight will neither be inviting nor without loss.  To lower the risks inside faucets will be left to drip, cabinet doors will be opened in front of the pipes below, and thermostats will be turned up higher than usual.  So I will not feel the bite of the chilling wind nor will my heart for, oddly enough, I know where lay outside what will keep it warm. Though I know not how they survive, the larkspur seedlings in the photo will make it through this long, cold night as well as others like it.  I may not be able to fathom all that God built into Creation, but I can and do praise Him for all His goodness.

From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from scattering winds.  ~Job 37:9  ✝