Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Appreciating the garden...

 If there's one thing which resounded through my reading of chapter four in Emilie Barnes' book "Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home" it was the many simple ways we can add beauty and function through gardening - whether you have a large acreage, an allotment, a small backyard, an apartment, a room at a nursing home, a van at the caravan park, or even a bedsit. 

"You don't have to have acres of land or an emerald thumb in order for gardening to be part of your life. Your garden can flourish in whatever space and time you have to give it." (page 53)

Emilie recounts her early days of marriage, living in a tiny apartment which needed much imagination and creativity to bring about an atmosphere of 'home'. The shelf below her kitchen window soon became a garden of potted herbs and bright cheery geraniums, sparking within her a love for gardening as a source of beauty, and also as a way to add flavour to their simple meals. 

There are  many books on the market which offer ideas for balcony gardening, and some of the sites I have visited and the photos seen, show abundant greenery and a variety of edible plants almost within arms reach of the living room door. 

We live in the hot humid tropics of Northern Queensland, and as you drive by the populated shoreline of our town, there are hundreds of balconied apartments to see...but the ones which stand out are those filled with miniature fruit trees, climbing vegetables, herbs and flowers. If the balcony is large enough there may be a swing seat, but most balconies are smaller, yet spaces of real beauty and productivity. 

Emilie reminds us that God created the earth out of nothing, and with that in mind, she encourages us to look with creative eyes at our own blank space of dirt, imagining what we can do to add life and bring abundant growth. 
Even though many of us do not have a green thumb, and neither did she (though her husband was blessed that way) she advises all who are starting out to research what will grow well in your individual climate and area - because she planted a number of things that failed.
These are her tips for garden planning, gained from her own experience...

1. Some plants do better in the shade than in the sun.
2. Not all plants will grow in your region.
3. When planting trees, the hole needs to be twice as big as the ball of the tree, and use a very good quality soil mix.
4. Weed regularly to avoid them taking over your gardens.
5. Apply a good balanced fertiliser regularly.
6. A well thought out watering schedule is important for good growth.
7. I love this one..."With a garden, God always gives you a second chance. With time, patience, and fertiliser, even major mistakes can be corrected and beauty will be the result."

With regards to the poem (above) which Emilie includes in this chapter, I'll be quite honest and tell you I never really liked it. I thought how wrong to imagine you'd be nearer to God's heart if you were in the garden...and that belief still holds true for me.
However, when we moved to this home, our very first purchased residence, four years ago, the garden was pretty much a blank slate and we had no idea where to begin, but we both loved trees and greenery, and we both wanted to grow our own food. Hubby was less fussed on flowers, but when I explained we needed them for the bees he came on board with my floral plans. 
As we began the long process of planting (both successful and unsuccessful) and almost lost the lot in the floods of 2019, a deep delight began to take root within my heart, and you know, I can tell you today that even though I can feel close to God anywhere, it is when I am tending my garden and chatting away to Him that I seem to have my most profoundly gentle and inspiring moments - so I look upon Dorothy Gurney's poem with delight now. 

The rest of the chapter is filled with different areas to display plants, such as the front entrance (inside and out), hanging pots around windows, or growing herbs on windowsills. Emilie also encourages her readers to involve our children and grandchildren in the hands on work of planting, caring, weeding, and harvesting. 

Lastly, when setting up your garden be it large or small, work with the seasons, visit open garden days in your town for ideas, buy or borrow books which are relevant to your climate and region, and most importantly, make a start. Just jump in and get your hands in the much delight awaits you. 

Here's some pics from around our garden this week - some planting, some harvesting, some simply beautiful for bringing in the house. Little Harry can be spied at my feet, his favourite place to be until hubby arrives home from work and then it's all about their 'boys club'. I love it!

Radishes sprouting, which we eat in salads, but also use the leaves for delicious radish pesto...

More radishes and mizuna greens...

The final crop of baby beets pulled and ready to be washed and pickled. We use the beetroot greens in salads...

New beetroot seedling planted in hopes of more baby beets, but if not, the greens will do nicely...

A volunteer tomato popped up in the front garden, and though our tomato season is over (once it gets too hot and humid the pests destroy them) this one is doing well. Of course, being the only tomato we have growing now we can check it multiple times a day to remove bugs. 

Harry dog is everywhere...
If I'm in the garden, so is he, and he loves drinking from the hose while I'm watering. In fact, he doesn't mind water at all. TWICE he has jumped into the pool while I've been swimming my daily laps! I quickly rescue him and take him heart skips a beat when he dives in head first and goes under. 
But his bath time, well that's another matter. He's not particularly fond of that. Ha ha!

The birdhouse hubby built three years back became home to a family of Myna birds this spring, so he was really chuffed! I can hear the babies, but can't see them yet and don't want to disturb them.

Beauty...tending my roses is a joy I cannot express well enough. They do much better in partial shade as their petals burn in our fierce tropical sun, so our large Poinciana tree has become for them a spring/summer shelter.

They make the most beautiful vase display on my desk. Cutting a few blooms every couple of days means a heady rose scent surrounds me as I answer emails, type and work on other computer things. 
The pink rose is my hardest, and the one with a fragrance that lingers and assails your senses. It's called Perfume Passion, and apart from this one we bought two seasons back I have never seen another. 
These two were picked at dawn...

That's all for today. Hope you're doing well and finding delightful tasks to do around home and the garden. If you have any gardening ideas, experiences, or know of interesting books on gardening, please let us know in the comments below. I found a wonderful book for growing fruits and vegetables in the Australian tropics that has proved invaluable for understanding this particular climate and its challenges (HERE) but as you, my lovely readers, are wide spread across the globe, please share titles you have found helpful because it may be just what someone else is looking for. 

Before I sign off, my darling friend Fee has begun blogging again, and her focus is on the garden, living simply and food preservation. Pop over HERE and say hi - she'd love to catch up with you. We've had some wonderful phone chats lately, about the life changes we've made to nourish and bless our souls, changes that show you're never too old, or too unwell, to make small or large positive steps towards a fuller and more productive life. 

I have always believed that as long as I have breath, God has work for me to do, to His glory...and if you're reading this today, dear one, He still has a plan for you too.

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Lin said...

Beautiful roses Jennifer and Harry is a little cutie. I need to catch up with my reading! Thanks for your commentary. xx

Beth said...

I am not the gardener in our family - I hate getting dirt under my nails, which happens even when I wear gloves - but I do appreciate the time my sisters spend tending the garden and the produce that I benefit from when it comes to harvesting.
I do keep a small collection of indoor plants going, like a Chain of Hearts, that I have tended for about 4 years and a couple of others that were gifts, though I must admit to killing the orchid that I was given for my birthday by overwatering.
It is lovely to see the new leaves and watch these plants grow.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Gardening :) Thank you for a Wednesday morning blog post to enjoy with my coffee :)
Right plant, right place. That's what I learned over the years. But then there are a few surprises along the way.
With the new fencing going in this week I will be thinking about planting for the next growing season. Rosemary for sure. smells so good ! Had it fresh with ginger in tea and liked it ! and then there is
" Salvia yangii, previously known as Perovskia atriplicifolia, and commonly called Russian sage, is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant and subshrub." copied from Internet
Smells great and flowers for quite a while.
Then there's all the Summer blooms to look forward too :)
hugs, take care,

Anonymous said...

A lovely post again Jennifer. As my husband does the work in our garden, I am able to just enjoy it. Always fresh veggies and lovely flowers for inside. The rain this year has not been helpful, however I would not complain as the floods have been so sad for so many, and we feel blessed to live on a hill where there is run off. Thankyou for the effort you put into your writing. Blessings Gail.

Allie said...

I love the idea of gardening - the actual work, not so much. Apparently the only plant I can keep alive is an African violet, so I have two that are in bloom most of the time. I have no idea why, I neglect them shamefully.
I think I would rather draw a garden than try to grow one....but I may try my hand at it in spring. Harry is too cute for words!!!!!!!!!

Lorrie said...

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for another lovely post. I love to garden. I am careful to do the needed indoor chores before heading out to my garden, because once I'm there, I want to spend all day weeding, digging, and trimming. It's a feeling of real luxury for me to be able to pick food from the vegetable plot for dinner. We are still enjoy tomatoes, basil, and lettuce, even as the days grow darker here on the west coast of Canada, and the temperatures drop. I look around my kitchen just now and see vases of zinnias, another of dahlias and hydrangeas, and a glass of fresh rosemary and sage stems, and I feel so blessed.

I have just one Emilie Barnes book "Time Began in a Garden" and in the opening she talks about Garden Time as "time that involves itself in the moment, that passes each moment fully alive, that focuses on the soaring stateliness of trees and the minute scale of the tiniest blossom and insect."

Have a most wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blogs. I am not a gardener, but I love beautiful plants. The quotes from Emilie Barnes are a pleasure as I picture her saying these things. (I’ve been blessed to go to several retreats where she spoke.) And, you adorable grandkids, cute pup, and lovely home ideas are such a light in the day. Thank you, and hope you are feeling well. Enjoy your Summer down under!! Thank you.

terricheney said...

I always felt that the two things I understood most about God was sowing/reaping (farm country girl here) and creativity. Of course, there is so much more to Him than those two things but it was the two things that I understood best when I knew Him the least.

Anonymous said...

Gardening is a form of praise and worship to God for me.
Harry is absolutely darling. I love it when puppies run around with one ear flipped inside out. So endearing!

Susan said...

I absolutely believe there's a plan for me. I know there is. Our Heavenly Father is not a God of coincidences! Your roses are fabulous. I'm still hoping to get a few more yellow ones before the freeze hits early next week overnight. My house will be inundated with all the plants in pots that are out there, too. Have to bring them inside this weekend and figure out where to put them all!

I mynah bird family! That sounds so exotic to me. Our birds should be flying south any day now, and I expect to see the geese head that way in a few weeks, flying over us from Canada. It's one of those happy-sad times to see them all go. Some things usually stay, but we're in the band of extra cold and snowy this winter, supposedly, so I'm not sure what we'll have. Squirrels in their trees, no doubt, and maybe some will try to get in my attic again this winter!

I really like those quotes you made and think they would make wonderful embroidery blocks - just as soon as my hands are steady enough. =) Thank you for the great inspiration and example you are to me.

Janice said...

When we first moved out of town, into a shed, while we built our house, we had one tiny garden bed under the bathroom window. It was only 1.5metres long. In it we grew a climbing rose, a lavender, a tomato, which was the best we’ve ever grown, some herbs and some daffodils. It was such a nice thing to have and so easy to maintain. We went on to plant a large garden, but sadly never had the time or water to look after it properly. Now that we are back in town, we have a more manageable sized garden, together with the time and water, so find much joy in it. Some starlings were trying to build a nest on top of our roller door, which we kept destroying, so now that have taken over our letterbox. Just as well we get next to no mail these days.

Diana Stitching said...

I have quite a small garden in the north-west of England. I'm rather a lazy gardener so it doesn't get a lot of attention, plus I won't kill anything so it's full of slugs and snails! But it's also full of nesting birds in the spring, and various pollinating insects, some little frogs, and bats at dusk. All these are more important to me than a neat and tidy garden. After a very hot summer and a long drought, we've been blessed with plenty of rain, and so everything is looking very green now. The ivy is flowering like mad, and I still have lavender and fuschia blooming.
Good luck with your garden this year, and hopefully your weather won't be too extreme xx

Fee said...

Those roses are gorgeous ! And Harry well he just melts my heart. I haven’t tried beetroot tops. I have some in the garden so will have to put it the next salad x

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I love the Dorothy Gurney poem because I feel so immersed in God's handiwork while gardening. I seldom use long-handled garden tools because I prefer to be on my hands and knees "up close and personal" with the plants. I marvel at every little shoot and bud and the earthworms at work and the toads hopping by. Every flower is a miracle of beauty and design, every butterfly an amazing creation. It's so easy to feel God's presence in the warmth of sunshine and peaceful hum of bees. It truly saddens me to see how humankind has treated our Earth with so little respect, and fear that future generations may never experience this kind of oneness with nature.

Thank you for your blog, Jennifer. It is a welcome escape to a place of peace and friendship.
Jackie in Michigan

Kim said...

Gardening has been such a joy and therapy for me over the years and I, too, find it a great time for worship. Sadly, it's too cold now in northern US for gardening outside, so I'm changing to gardening inside. Since you asked for book suggestions, a favorite of mine (not for the writing quality, but for the information) is Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke. It enables me to keep gardening and providing salad greens and playing in the dirt.

Angie in SoCal said...

A very thoughtful and soothing post. Thank you!