Bring On Summer

Had that many seasons really passed? Grandma would have my hide! 

When the iris finished blooming in May, I knew they needed renewal. I couldn’t remember when we’d last unclogged  the planter, but the merging of  purples and bronzes told me we were overdue for a revival. Of the more than ten varieties I had planted in the beginning, only three colors bloomed this season, evidence the rhizomes had overgrown one another and the iris couldn’t thrive. Time for the gardener’s knife to strike. 

I clipped off the old foliage, my husband dug up the roots. We bagged the overwhelming numbers, then cleared out the top layer of soil. He transported the homegrown compost I make from kitchen vegetable scraps and coffee grounds to the empty planter, then added a layer of barn compost he hauled in from a local company. The combination would promote new healthy plants. For the summer, the planter would support border dahlias. 

In the fall I will replace a few of the rhizomes. My gardening friends will get the rest. 

Like my garden, the Bible talks of renewal. In John 15:1 Christ compares our relationship to Him like a vine with many branches. Our heavenly Father is the vinedresser. In 15:2 He says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

 Verse 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” 

God set the example in our gardens . The iris, the dahlias, the petunias, all need pruning, moving, tending. In the gardens our souls, without the vinedresser, we too would grow out of control in need of His care.

 My garden is almost ready for summer.  The larger dahlias are up and tied to their poles. The border flowers are planted. A few weedy spots need a hoe and my patio umbrella needs hoisting, but other than that we are ready for the sun to shine.

 Can you smell the barbecue?

Tiny Hole, Magnificent God


Just a hole in the wall, Black in a sea of shamrock green

      Through the salon’s window where I watched traffic roll by, the hole in the wall across the driveway appeared to be nothing more than a blemish in the concrete. A ragged break, no bigger than a golf ball, had cracked open in the cement blocks that formed one side of the building. To any passerby, the hole would appear non-descript—black in a sea of shamrock green.   

      But as I sat there listening to the scissors snip beside my ear, the hole suddenly sprouted, a flurry of color that blurred in its haste to exit.

      “What was that?” I pointed toward the spot.

      “Swallows.” My stylist continued clipping. “They nest there every year.”

      Now my attention riveted to the opening. Sure enough, within a few minutes the little bird returned. She swooped in at breakneck speed, aimed at the wall, and just before she smashed herself against the cement, her wings lowered and she glided through the hole with computerized precision. One slight miscalculation and she would end her life against an unforgiving building. Pilots could learn a thing or two from this bird.

      Investigative by nature, I had to inspect the hole. I asked the owner if I could take a picture of it. When the camera flashed, I heard the chicks peep inside the opening.

       The owner explained she had walled up the interior when she painted, forming a small, insulated space between the inside and the outer wall.  Since then the swallows had nested every year, hatching their young in the sanctuary of the hole.

      The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Anyone who has studied medicine knows how complex our human bodies are. Watching the swallow maneuver with such precision renews my faith in an all-powerful God who watches over the needs of every creature, right down to the flight pattern of a tiny mother bird. To think He cares about us even more is beyond my ability to comprehend.

In Psalm 84, the psalmist writes:

How lovely is your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;

My heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,

And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young—

Even your altars, O Lord of hosts,

My King and my God

Blessed are they who dwell in Your house,

They will still be praising You.


Can you hear them peeping?

Grandma’s Rhizomes–Never Return Home Without One

Poor Man’s Orchids.

 That’s what my grandmother called  bearded iris. Every trip she made to visit friends or family, she returned with a new rhizome to plant in her iris bed. I remember the array of colors beside her house, the many varieties she  had gathered. Over time, the iris disappeared as Grandma grew less capable of tending them.

My husband believes bearded iris are more trouble than they’re worth. For two weeks every spring they flower, wither, and retreat, leaving nothing but the green foliage behind. They have to be trimmed, the stalks removed, and every few years, the rhizomes have to be cut up or they quit blooming.

To me that two weeks is a window of wonder, the colors of the blooms magical, the combination of hues amazing.

The term rhizome describes something that grows without any mechanism. Bearded iris rhizomes slowly creep over the ground, crawling in and around each other, spreading themselves as far as the earth will allow.  Eventually their very nature prevents them from blooming as the rhizomes become clogged from their slow creep. Their tendency to spread themselves every flowering season will become the very thing that will stop them.

According to wikipedia, rhizome has been used as a metaphor to describe communities or concepts that spread without any visible means of support. The Internet, which continues to grow in popularity, has also garnered the term.

Sin can be a rhizome for those of us who seek to follow God. We allow temptation to creep in, slowly changing how we think, sin rooting itself in and around our faith, choking off the truth that God wants  us to know.

James 1:12-15 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation: for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

No wonder the word of God has been called a two-edged sword. Hebrews 4:12. Let it, like the gardener’s knife against the rhizome, unclog us so we continue to bloom where we are planted.