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

441. Bees do have smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury

The first week of August
hangs at the top of summer,
the top of the live-long year,
like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel
when it pauses turning.
The weeks that come before
are only a climb from balmy spring,
and those that follow 
a drop to the chill of autumn,
but August is motionless and hot.
~Natalie Babbit

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Months have passed since the jasmine climbed, the wisteria dangled, the snapdragons snapped, the poppies popped, and the birds obeyed spring’s pressing summons to build nests and procreate. Then after the summer solstice came and summer’s fires were stoked, the feverfew grew feverish, the pink loose-strife broke loose, the inland sea oats set sail on an ocean of green along the fence, and Columbine’s dove-like clusters turned brown, split open and spilled their bits of black seed bounty upon the ground. And whilst all this blooming was going on, the divine music of life that reached glorious crescendos in April grew more mellow in May, perkily sassy in June, and feverishly sultry in July. Two days hence from now, it would normally fall into a low, oppressed hum as August opens the doors to the boiler room, but strangely enough we are and will be for the next week experiencing some cooler than usual days. Though curious about the reason for such a blessing, I’ve learned never “to look a gift horse in the mouth.” The bees busily gathering nectar may grumble somewhat at this interloping gardener who sometimes stays too long in their domain or who moves to close in proximity to their pollen-rich environments such as the Texas Star Hibiscus in the photo, but grumble I shall not because normally this time of year we’re looking at the possibility of a record setting number of triple-digit-high days, days way, way too hot to enjoy even briefly being outside.

I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. ~Hosea 13:5   ✝

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! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

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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368. The poppies hung dew-dabbed on their stalks. ~John Keats

Poppies

The strange bright dancers
Are in the garden.
The wind of spring
Is a soft music.

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Scarlet and orange,
Flaming and golden,
The strange, bright dancers
Move to the music.

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And some are whiter
Than snow in winter,
And float like snowflakes
Drifting in the garden.

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Oh, have you seen them,
The strange bright dancers,
Nodding and swaying
To the wind’s music?
~P.A. Ropes

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He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by his power made the south wind blow. ~Psalm 78:26   ✝

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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!

**Images via Pinterest.

303. The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature. ~Jeff Cox

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In the corner of his garden, there’s a patch he used to keep
All to himself, to allow nature to creep
There are no trimmed edges
or prim, proper hedges
He left his earth still and alone
Allowed the forces of nature to roam
He said that you don’t always have to be tidy and neat
Just watch the beauty of opportunity grow at your feet
He said just watch the earth produce its own glory
And I watched…and held on to his story
My granddad was right
Add water and light
Behold the sight
There are poppies and flowering weeds
Buttercups and oat coloured reeds
Daisies gingerly lift their heads
Dandelions roar from muddy beds
Purple thistles and strange grasses
Colours that alight and ignite masses
Dark ferns and heathers
Dandelion clock feathers
Birds foot trefoil, a four leafed clover
My granddad’s story is not over
He may have gone, I may have cried
But the beauty he predicted never died
~Melanie Waters

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.  ~Psalm 57:5  ✝

**photos via Pinterest

241. O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed the winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, each like a corpse within its grave, until thine azure sister of the spring shall blow her clarion o’er the dreaming earth. ~John Davies

I paid a dime for a package of seeds
And the clerk tossed them out with a flip.
“We’ve got ‘em assorted for every man’s needs,”
He said with a smile on his lip.
“Pansies and poppies and asters and peas!
Ten cents a package and pick as you please!”

Now seeds are just dimes to the man in the store
And dimes are the things he needs;
And I’ve been to buy them in seasons before,
But have thought of them merely as seeds.
But it flashed through my mind as I took them this time
“You have purchased a miracle here for a dime!”

“You’ve a dime’s worth of power no man can create,
You’ve a dime’s worth of life in your hand!
You’ve a dime’s worth of mystery, destiny, fate,
Which the wisest cannot understand.
In this bright little package, now isn’t it odd?
You’ve a dime’s worth of something known only to God.
~Edgar A. Guest

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Nowadays a packet of seeds costs more than a dime; yet one can still buy a packet of “miracles” for a reasonable sum.  And the initial investment is small compared to the potential yield not only from the generous number of seeds in each packet but also from the seeds that those plants ultimately produce.  I know because my garden is full of plants started from seeds I never bought.  Not only that but lots of birds eat well on the excess “birdseed” I don’t have to buy.  So it is that in nurturing I am nurtured.  By becoming a part of the “cosmic consciousness,” I  get to participate in the sacred dance of life.

The Book of Genesis tells us that on the third day the Lord created seed-bearing plants and trees.  And from the moment He spoke those words, countless seasons have come and gone and the soil in any given garden has quaked with life from seeds forming in its dark wombs.  As the trembling in “dark wintry beds” increased, an impetus not unlike labor pains pushed roots downward and tiny green shoots upwards toward the light until at last new “miracles” became stable,visible, and tangible.  As more and more darkness melted away in the blaze of lengthening days and intensifying sunlight, the warp and woof of nature began weaving another springtime into existence.  And when the shroud of gloom, winter’s drab garment, was finally sloughed off it was replaced by spring’s brilliant, gauzy garments, garments as colorful as the “silks of Samarkand.”

Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold.  ~Genesis 26:12  ✝

192. Magnificent Autumn! He comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness;
harvest; orange, gold, amber;
cool nights and the smell of fire…
…everything we see is celebrating
one last violently hued hurrah before
the black and white and silence of winter.
~Shauna Niequist

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After last week’s hard freeze the march of fall’s foot soldiers revved up, and now more and more leafy encampments are being set ablaze.  What leafage is still dressed in green regimentals is fading fast to shades of yellow, orange, or hot reds cooled only by the occasional purple hue.  Though rare so far have been the firings of booming “thunder cannons” and the barrages of pelting rain, there have been, indicative fiery, explosions erupting on the eastern horizon at sunrise or westward over the rooftops at sunset forewarning the coming of fall’s final, crushing blitz.  The fallen victims of the earliest skirmishes are already gathering along curbs, littering the ground, and floating where waters collect, and the yet vanquished remaining leafy squadrons have not long before they too shall face their “last, violently hued hurrah.”  All is not as lost as it would seem however; for, despite the ever-increasing volume of casualties and the fact that the winter solstice is closing in, a measure of springtime miracles are already pushing up low and in warm safety under the autumnal warrior’s leafy carnage that’s been ransacked from on high by gusting winds.  Though but skimpily clad seedlings they be now, the deepening roots of larkspur, columbine, and poppies will hold their new growth steadfastly in place enabling them to hang tenaciously to life all winter long under fall’s stricken glory.  How could there be a more supremely, well-designed plan than that or any better a Creator than the Lord who devised such a grand and faithful plan!

Yet I call this to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.”  ~Lamentations 3:21-23  ✝