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

1446. Beauty is a nectar which intoxicates the soul. ~T.C. Henley

Beauty unites all things,
links together flower and star,
with chains more certain than
those of reason.
~Henry James Slack

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of the tree was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until one grew here.

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of it was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until I had one of my own.

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Then another year or two went by and I finally found one at a nursery in a small town close to where we live. It was autumn and the leaves were falling off but you could tell it was alive so we bought it and all winter my hopes ran high that come spring I would at last have my ornamental Peppermint Peach Tree. As the temps began to rise, I’d go out every day looking for signs of life only to find none and eventual heartbreak once again.

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So I told myself it just wasn’t meant to be and moved on until last spring when I saw another one in full bloom again. As soon as I got home I got online to try one more time to find one, and I did. It came on a late and cold wintry day which was not a good time to get out and plant it. It was packed in ice to keep it alive until we didn’t have to plant it immediately, so it lived like that for nearly a week until at last we could finally get out and get it in the ground. And then the waiting game began again. Every day I would make my little trek out to the back fence where we had planted it to see if anything was happening and sure enough green leaf swellings began to appear and what looked like a few blossoms too. Some of the little flowers are white, some are white with red stripes, and some are just red, and it’s all one one tree, thus the name, Flowering Peppermint Peach Tree.

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A week later, we had a late freeze and I feared the worst, but although the little blossom swellings fell off the green leaves did not and so all summer the little baby tree was filled with the sweet music of many leaves and I made sure it was watered well. Then autumn followed by winter came and the leaves vanished. Nevertheless, I waited with great faith that this, the third try, would prove fruitful and praise the Lord and hallelujah it did! I know, I know, it’s just a tree right?! And many would think me silly and that such really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but you see it truly does. It reminds me that God is still in His heaven and all’s right with the world!!! Mankind may be doing it’s best to destroy all that Yahweh made, but He, the Maker of heaven and earth, is still on the Throne of Grace and in control!

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Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. ~Deuteronomy 7:9 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; the first one is the tree when I first saw it years ago in another’s yard, and the remaining ones are what’s happening now in my yard on my own little tree

1442. Through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul. ~John Keats

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful
means that we are less alone,
that we are more deeply inserted into existence
than the course of a single life
would lead us to believe.
~John Berger

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Years ago when I first began gardening, should anyone ask me what my favorite flower was, my reply as always was the rose. And I still adore them, but that was before I had seen a poppy or a morning glory nor clematis nor hollyhock nor lilies and on and only the list grows. Now I can honestly say it’s a toss up. It really depends on what’s blooming at the time. I would never have come to have grown either poppies or morning glories had I not seen them at a plant sale on a driveway in a neighborhood not too far from mine. I instantly fell in love with both of them. The owner of the house who was having the plant sale told me that morning glory seeds were easy to start, the trick was to soak them in what began as tepid water for 24 hours before I sewed them in the ground in spring. But she said, the poppy seeds must be sown in our area in the fall in order for them to germinate and grow roots deep enough to put up their tall stems and glorious flowers. (In colder climes with much later warm-ups, sowing them in autumn is not the thing to do.) So that summer I had my first crop of morning glories and the following autumn I sowed my first seeds for the poppies which bloomed the following spring. Since then it has been a love affair I never tire of. Why all of this now, you might ask, since it’s not spring yet and autumn has long since past. Well I hadn’t been outside in my yard lately, but today when I opened the back door to feed the cats, I saw poppy plants about 6 inches tall already, and of usual childhood squeals of joy arose from deep down inside and became air borne. I was a bit late sowing poppy seeds this last autumn and was fearful that perhaps I wouldn’t have any this year, but one of the things about seeds that I absolutely adore is that often all on their own they fall from a spent flower and lie in wait for the proper time to germinate and spring up anew with no help from human hands. So I went back into my photo archives and found some poppy and morning glory photos to dazzle you with this week. Why the heck not? I can as easily put a quote on a few of my favorite things as I can on ones I find on Pinterest and Pixabay, right?! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my…

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…” ~Matthew 6:28 ✝

**Poppy photo taken by Natalie in her yard

1441. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

For a seed to achieve
its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks,
its insides come out,
and everything changes.
~Cynthia Occelli

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Part of the genius of God’s grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and vitality. These things have been stored in the seeds of our being, seeds that possess the same strength as that of the rising sun, earth’s swelling seas, and its fertile plains. An excellent time to look for the shining of Yahweh’s everlasting light in the sanctuary of the soul is in the first waking moments of each new day. These are moments that are fresh and ripe and full of promise, and regardless of one’s age there’s simply never a moment when in and of ourselves that there aren’t unopened gifts(seeds) of promise. The Almighty’s sacred hopes remain within us forever, and heaven’s creativity on earth can be born of them at any time. Even if the human soul has grown hard, the catalyst of prayer, as the agonies of life in the world are lifted up, is enough to bring about miraculous new life and hope. Just take a look at seeds which lie dormant in the earth season after season after season; they too can be brought to life with a single spark of the Divine’s touch.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. ~Isaiah 61:11 ✝

**Image of flax seed which is used to make linen found on Pixabay

1436. I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker. ~Voltaire

If you want to find God, hang out
in the space between your thoughts.
~Alan CohenScreen Shot 2017-12-24 at 8.30.06 PM.pngMay yours always be a world blessed
with plentitude and enduring joys.
In your heart, may there be love;
in your soul, may there be peace;
in your mind may there be calmness.
May each season of the years
bring you the best they have to offer.
May you never be lacking enough
and never want for more.
May your home be a sanctuary wherein
you feel the continual presence of the Lord.
May you feel His mantle of love
perpetually around you and yours.
May your life yield a multitude of days
filled with laughter and love.
On rainy or troubling days may there
be rainbows, physical and/or spiritual,
to gladden your eyes and heart.
On starry, moonlit nights, may the orbs of heaven
and the “echoes of the spheres” speak to you
of the Holy One and His goodness and mercy.
~Natalie Scarberry

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. -Ephesians 1:17 ✝

**Clocks photos taken by Natalie in London and Paris; collage created by Natalie

1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1427. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. ~André Gide

Use your authentic voice
and share from your heart.
Be real. Be you. Tell your story.
~Arianna Merritt

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My discourse the last two days has not been penned in order to mitigate myself, to explain myself, nor to address any of my personal needs. I just hate to see so many people, especially young girls and women, believing they have to create “versions” of themselves to be worthy and/or to survive when all they need do is discover and/or reconnect with what’s real and true about themselves. One should never have to tell lies to validate him or herself. We were already born “enough!” For after all we are the apple of God’s eye and created in His image! Nothing in this life is perfect, and so we must learn to work with the imperfections in and around us. That does NOT mean, however, that we have to become differently imperfect to do that. We are already equipped with what we need to accomplish our purpose in this life. In fact it was in-utero-hard-wired into our beings.

A version by definition is: something differing in certain respects. Although time causes our physical bodies to differ and maturing can and should bring a differing and greater wisdom, we do NOT have to alter our core, our soul. Once I learned this not only did I successfully raise a child to be true to herself, but as a teacher I encouraged needy adolescent children every day. And when dealing with them, I learned quickly that being true to my real self made me more trustworthy, more approachable, and more able to shore up in truth the wobbly legs of those who were struggling to “fit in.” Yes, it requires diligent vulnerability, transparency, honesty, and integrity, but that’s what I came into the world designed to be able to muster, and so did YOU!!!

To be continued…

The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. ~Excerpt from Jeremiah 51:17 ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text added by Natalie