This has been a busy Summer. A lot busier than I had anticipated. Not that I’m complaining. The busy isn’t a bad busy. It’s a pretty awesome busy, actually. However, it hasn’t afforded me a lot of time to do some extracurricular activities that I happen to enjoy, such as my new found love of gardening. I have lots of potted plants inside and out that I’ve been keeping up with, but my little jungle outside hasn’t received as much attention.
It seems to have rained a lot while we were away so the weeds and plants outside needed some major attention. Saturday while the family was out having fun I decided to stay back and tend to my garden. It was not out of obligation but out of complete pleasure. This home is my oasis and it’s important to me that I enjoy my surroundings.
When it comes to landscaping, usually the design is not only focused on beauty, but also on a clean look, as well as easy maintenance. There are usually boarders, mulch, and rocks. They usually help with weeding, including providing space so that the weedwhacker doesn’t destroy the plants or trees. The result of the design is always beautiful, but it’s usually very obvious that someone made it look that way. It’s not natural.
I never noticed or knew any of these things until I moved into the home I live in now. Why? The home we are renting is owned by a pretty big property management company. There is no private homeowner. It’s owned by a corporation. Therefore, there isn’t as much attention to detail as there would be if it was privately owned. This is the largest property they own in Jacksonville and when the home is put up for rent the landscapers assignment, basically, is to do just enough to make the home look presentable. Nothing new is done. No new plants or design. Just trim and clean up the entire thing. The front landscaping has some mulch, providing an appearance of boarder so that it looks “clean”, but the back yard does not. It appears at some point there use to be, but with the eroding and shifting sand the blocks have made their way underground. There is no mulch and in places where it must have been “spotty”, instead of them putting down mulch, they just left it bare. We do not have dirt; we have sand. I loved the backyard and it’s natural beauty, so I started learning about gardening to tend to it ensuring it’s a peaceful place where I can write.
We have been in this home for almost 6 months and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been able to fill in almost every bare area, meaning, it’s almost all green. I do not have a typical lawn with pristine grass, but my lawn is green. I have some areas that have grass, others moss, some weeds, and some patches are vines. It’s wild, that’s for sure. It sounds kind of funky, but somehow it works – and it’s beautiful.
I love nature. I love the beach, but I also love the woods. I love NATURAL. Since this home isn’t mine, I didn’t want to invest a lot of money into landscaping, but it is my current home and I wanted to create a space that I would enjoy. I didn’t dig up the ground. I didn’t buy boarders, rocks, or mulch. I planted in spots that were accessible (there are a lot of roots that prevented me from digging too far), I cleaned up spots that were lacking luster, and I worked with what I had. That was back in April and once I was done, I loved it.
I kept up with it as much as I could, but the last couple months have been tough and it had reached a point that I couldn’t ignore. You see, when we mow and weed whack, once we get to the section of the property you see in this picture, we can only go so far so that we don’t run over the plants, including the tree and moss. This is exactly why most get boarders. I have to manually trim all the weeds with scissors (different gardening tools). What does that mean? I get on my knees and trim all the weeds around the plants by hand with scissors/trimming tool.
I have baby magnolia bushes that I planted (over to the left of the picture.) The weeds were so high and the bushes behind them were so overgrown we couldn’t even see the bushes anymore; which meant the flowers weren’t even able to bloom because they require lots of sun. The red/pinkish plants over to the right were being taken over by weeds and covered by elephant ears. And my awesome mossed wooden planks were hidden by weeds and overgrown plants. It looked cool in it’s own way, but the plants and flowers that were intentionally planted to add to it’s beauty were hidden.
As I trimmed and pruned I began to think:
The plants and flowers were hidden, but they were still there. You could see glimpses of them; they just weren’t on full display. I may have known they were there, but what was the point if they couldn’t be seen; if they couldn’t be enjoyed. I placed them there so that I could marvel at their beauty. They serve a purpose and if they are hidden their purpose wasn’t being fulfilled.
Keeping a garden that has no boarders, mulch, or rocks requires a lot more work. It requires more frequent maintenance and it’s much more tedious to maintain, but I prefer it over the “clean” lines and simplified maintenance. Why? Because it looks natural. It looks how it was created to look. It’s not manicured; pretty and perfect. It’s natural and beautiful. It was EXTERMELY hot and humid on Saturday and I didn’t have time to clean up everything I wanted to, but the little I did made a world of a different to my little garden. The rest of our property is as natural as natural can be…and you know what? I love it. It’s raw, it’s crazy, it’s beautiful…it’s natural.
As I was cleaning up around the magnolias and plants, I couldn’t help but think about all the people God has intentionally placed to serve a purpose, but because weeds grow at a much quicker rate and scream for attention, those people God planted are being taken over by weeds because we aren’t properly maintaining God’s garden.
The weeds aren’t always bad. Weeds have a bad rap. In my sandy soil I actually appreciate the weeds, especially the viney ones because of their benefit. What is their benefit? They help prevent erosion. They also offer greenery where grass does not grow. They help keep the garden lush and green. They serve a purpose, but they must be maintained or else they will wind up suffocating and/or covering the other plants.
There is a place and purpose for everyone. There are those that are young and immature in their faith, but so full of purpose and beauty. If we don’t maintain the garden, they will be overtaken by the loud attention seeking weeds. The weeds, just as the plant, serve its purpose, but when one covers up the other, the beauty is taken away. The beauty is when they are all in their proper place. It may not look as clean as mulch and rocks, but it sure is natural and beautiful. It may take more work because when trimming the weeds, we must be meticulous as to not injure the plants while we trim the weeds, but it’s work that is worth it…because it’s naturally beautiful. Some will view it as chaotic. They like the boarders, the mulch and the rocks. They like the clean rocks. They like the rules and regulations because it makes it easier to ensure we don’t strike a tree or plant with our weed whacker. It makes things quicker and requires less oversight. But, to me, I’d rather have things natural; how God intended it. Man-made beauty filled with rules and regulation, sure they look great. They are pleasant to look at, but compared to natural beauty, there is no comparison. At least not in my eyes. God’s artistry and creation is beautiful just as it is. Let’s co-labor with Him and tend to His garden.
When Adam was created, he would tend the Garden. As the Body of Christ, as the Church, we get to tend the garden of God. We get to take care of one another. We help ensure that EVERY plant serves the purpose God gave them. We get to trim the weeds that are overpowering the flowers and plants. We get to prune the dead branches and make sure that no one is being injured in the process. Sure, it takes time; it’s a lot of work and sometimes hurts, but it’s worth it. God’s glory gets to shine brightly.
In a garden, plants, weeds, and flowers cannot trim/prune themselves, but in the Garden of God, something powerful is possible. Through Jesus Christ, we have the ability to trim and prune ourselves. We, as the Church, must help one another. We must tend to the Garden of God, but as we mature, we must learn how to prune ourselves properly so that we can see clear enough to help prune the rest of the Garden. Jesus, our master Gardener, has a very clear perspective of the pruning that needs to occur in our lives to make sure that no one is overtaking us and that we aren’t overtaking anyone else. He knows best how to ensure we are serving our purpose and those around us are as well. Let’s partner with the master Gardner. Let’s tend God’s garden. It’s not always as “clean” as one with boarders, mulch, and rocks, but it’s always spectacularly naturally beautiful.