Tree of Love.

My garden in no Eden, it’s certainly not paradise. It’s far from prefect. The makeshift bamboo trellis bows and bends under the weight of the overgrown kiwi plant. Wobbly uneven brick paths weave their way through the borders, rotten fences, cracked patio slabs all give my garden a natural unkept look.
These imperfections can only be found in the hard landscape of the garden. The landscape that is created and chosen by me. The soft landscape is living part of my garden; plants ,mulch, dirt, lawn, trees and shrubs all make up softscape.
The soft scape is that perfection that we often long to achieve. Perfection in such abundance cannot come from us. It can only come from our creator.
A magnificent Yew tree punctuates and dominates the soft landscape of my garden. Its hidden treasures are the Red berries ( Arils) each encasing the seed.
The yew tree has a strong christian heritage. It’s a tree that regenerates, it’s branches reach down into the ground to grow new stems, which then rise up around the old central growth as separate but linked trunks. After a time, they cannot be distinguished from the original tree. This self renewal is a symbol of death and rebirth, the new that grows out of the old.
It’s bark is distinctly Red, especially when wet from rain. The Red heartwood and White sapwood, symbolise the blood and body of Christ. It’s a tree that is full of stories mystery and folk tales.
The yew that grows in my garden has woven itself into my life story. It was under this tree that I was reborn, renewed found that love that comes from knowing Jesus.
I see this tree as my tree of life. I am not seeing it as the tree of life in Genesis and Revelation.  To me personally it’s a tree of new beginnings it’s a tree that loves.
Under its protective evergreen canopy my world changed. Its soft branches in the coolness of an April morning created a space filled with an abundance of love. A space that I received the love that come from Christ . It’s this love that changed me and changed my world forever.
There is nothing more powerful or joyous than the love that comes from Christ . To know this love is to live abundantly.
My yew tree lives abundantly in my garden and in my heart.
When we live abundantly our lives change, we see things that had until that time remained hidden. I see the perfectness in creation.
I see the Red Arils on my Yew tree and stop, pausing long enough to see God at work in my life and in my garden.

This weeks six on Saturday is a little homage to Taxus Baccata.

 

Genesis 2:8-9 The Message (MSG)

8-9 Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.

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Taking Love Home.

This week we had to make some really tough financial decisions. We cried as our beautiful old car was driven away by its new owner.
We reminisced as we packed up our scuba diving equipment ready to post out .
Looking around the garden I started to put plants aside, writing out price tags, attaching them to the plants that I had grown,loved and nurtured.
So much time care and love has gone into these plants, I decided they were not for sale. My plants are so much more than just a pretty flower they represent growth and love.
I sow the seeds but it’s God that grows them. I just provide the right conditions for that growth to take place. How could I possibly ask money for something so beautifully wonderful as the love that comes from God? I can’t .
I gave my plants away, asking only for a small donation ( to cover costs ) to those that could afford it. The donations I received will be spent on seeds. So I can keep on growing and keep on giving.
Each plant given represents love. Love freely given to carry on growing in someone else’s garden.
When you have God’s love it needs to be shared with others. As I shared my plants, I shared something of myself and my love for Jesus.
I have had a unexpected blessed weekend. Meeting so many new people, all with a interest in gardening all happy to take a little bit of love home with them.

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Colossians 2:7 Good News Translation (GNT)
7 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.

The Jewel of the field.

I am very slowly planting a Bible garden ( featuring plants from the Bible). It’s a garden that has no plans other than to grow plants along side Scripture.
It’s bringing my world of Gardening into God’s word, inviting people to share something of me when they visit my garden.
Researching and discovering new plants excites me. I’ve purchased a Bible garden book to aid with planting and research. It’s a great book to inspire plan and think big.
One little gem of a plant featured in the book is Corn Cockle “ Agrostemma Githago “
The book explains it’s the weed in the parable of the weeds.

“ When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared “ Matthew 13:26.

I purchased some seed, sowed them, watered and loved them. They have in turn germinated, grown flowered and set seed. I’ve loved having this plant in my garden, It’s small purple flowers have delighted me, it’s seeds heads fascinated me.
I’ve learnt it’s genus name Agrostemma is derived from the Greek word argos ( field) Stemma ( crown) – the jewel of the field.
I’ve learnt how it’s roots, stems and seeds are poisonous. If harvested with the wheat any bread made that contains its seeds will be bitter and can even be fatal.
Its been a jewel in my garden this year a wild flower on the edge of extinction in abundance and thriving.
But it’s come in under total false pretences.
Doing a little more research the more probable weed in the parable of the weed is darnel “ Lolium temulentum” it’s also known as Cockle or false wheat.
It has many similarities to Corn Cockle both are poisonous and both spoil the wheat crop.
I’ve seen so much beauty in the Corn Cockle, I’m not going to pull it up just because it’s not what I thought it was, I cherish all my plants, they are all precious to me.
The Corn Cockle is not a weed it’s a loved plant that enhances my meadow and ensures the survival of a plant on the edge of extinction.
Its going to be another journey as I source and plant darnel. I’m excited to be sowing this monster sized grass, excited by the conversations it will cultivate. It will be a blessing to share the parable of the weeds when I open my garden next year.
This giant grass will totally over shadow my Corn Cockle with its small delicate flowers. But it’s story will also be told, It’s a story of double checking , cross referencing learning to evaluate the sources and information I use for reference.

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My Secret Garden .

I have a fully formed vision of my garden in its mature years. It’s my vision, it’s not committed to paper, It’s not something I share, it’s my secret garden fantasy. It’s a vision that includes my favourite trees all grown to maturity.
I imagine my Bramley apple tree, a mirror image of the one that once grew in my grandmothers garden. I picture my grandchildren climbing this tree ( grandchildren yet to be conceived !!! ). Taking the same joys and pleasures from this enormous tree as I did in my childhood.
I visualise myself padding in the steam that will flow through the garden. The stream blending into the landscape as if it had always been a there.
I see the wet footprints I leave behind as I exit the stream via a network of stepping stones. There are cold frames and glass houses full of pelargoniums, all beautifully displayed in clay pots on gravel benches.
My vision has no space for failure. In my mind the apple tree will reach maturity, The plants that I grow will not succumb to drought or disease.

The reality is gardening does not happen like this. Our lives are the same, we think we are going one way but God has different plans for us.
Meeting Jesus four years ago was the start of the most beautiful journey. My life plan changed overnight. My heart was suddenly aware of not being alone. The dark lonely path ahead was lit with love. My faith allows me to fall and stumble over and over again. I continue to stumble, each and every time I am picked up by God.
I have been changed from the inside, my world has been turned totally upside down. New words and a language unique to the church have wiggled their way into my world.
Discernment, vocation, are just some of the words that are shaping my journey today. My world is changing it’s getting bigger and every so slightly bolder. I am starting to see myself as the unique individual that God created and loves.
The word discernment has encouraged me to I reach into myself, to discover what lies in the deaths of my heart. This journey of exploring my vocation is emotionally draining but at the same time transforming and exciting. It’s ( This journey is on God’s time scale, not my timescale ) giving me a new direction to slowly grow into the person God created me to be.
It’s a journey with the vision that comes from God.

My six this Saturday shows my gardens journey over the last 4 four years.

Picture one is approx 4 years ago – Picture two is the present day.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Borrowed landscape – Shakkei

The Mendip hills has some stunning views across the Somerset Countryside. Last weekend’s walk was no exception. After a long climb, we were rewarded with the most breathtaking view.
The view made me smile. I saw the perfectness of nature, I felt the power and space of God .The view was limitless- God is everywhere. There are no edges or limits to God’s presence, nor are there places where God is absent. God is all-knowing. God is infinite.

The view inspired and excited me. I wanted to walk more, explore this landscape, wonder, climb higher and look harder into the landscape that surrounded me.
Obviously, this view was not available to all. Even good health would not guarantee the same view. The view changes throughout the seasons and alters by the weather and the time of day.
But what if we could expand that view so others might see it? See the landscape that inspired and surrounded me.
That’s exactly what the gardener does. This inspiration is nothing new and using it has been practised for centuries. This Asian concept of Shakkei is very simple. The gardener uses their surroundings to expand the view.

How exciting is that!- Using what surrounds us; what’s already in place and what God has already given us. To pull the eye outwards, to look beyond what we normally see.

The challenge is to make full use of what we have, looking at ways to incorporate the landscape that surrounds us. When we look further, we find space. We see views we have never seen and mountains we have yet to climb.

When we keep looking beyond our horizons, we find God at work in the community that surrounds us. Instantaneously, everything just gets bigger.
When we expand our landscape, we look beyond our boarders and create an infinite space where God makes the impossible possible.
It’s taking the awesome view that made me smile, taking that view to those that can’t climb the hill. When you take the view and share it with God’s love, we strengthen the relationships between ourselves and the landscape in which we live. Looking outwardly into the landscape, we expand not only our horizons but the horizons of those that share and live in our community.
As a gardener, when I look from my garden to the distant and adjacent landscape features, my garden expands exponentially.

We are called to live outside of ourselves. Called to by Jesus
into the landscape that surrounds us. We are called to love and serve one another, to be authentic, exciting and embracing.

My six this Saturday are 6 borrowed landscapes viewed from my own garden.
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Upward borrowing – The evening Sky.

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Adjacent borrowing – Mature trees in the nearby cemetery.

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Adjacent borrowing –  Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Corylus avellana Contorta(  Twisted hazel)  is high on my wish list for my own garden. I love its twisted branches and enjoy looking at this plant from over the fence.

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Adjacent borrowing – Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Betula pendula, ( silver birch)  This tree is a few gardens away but its stunning and makes my Ginko tree in the foreground  look rather small.

Mark 6-15
And he said to them, ” Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”.

Love is Patient.

My garden is a big part of who I am, it’s complicated.
My moods and temperaments, my hopes and dreams are all reflected in the garden. It’s my visual soul. My garden connects me to Jesus,to my thoughts. It helps me sort out and understand the questions that wiz around in my head,

Fellow blogger off the edge gardening has just shared her six on Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a tool, a job completed, a flower, a leaf, wildlife, a pest, a success, anything at all!

Here’s my Six for this week.

Echium Pinnana
This giant Bi annual should have flowered. It’s two years old healthy great big leaves but no flower spike.
It’s a good reminder that we flower and fruit in Gods time not our time.
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Ginkgo Biboba
This is one of my favourite trees. It was the first tree I planted in my garden when we brought the house. Extract from the leaves are said to prevent age related memory loss.
That’s just one of the reasons I love this tree.I need it in my life and in my garden.

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Captalpa Bignoniodes
Another big tree, the latin name Bigniniodes sort of gives this away.
Yesterday’s blog was about how I am scared of the big. Today looking at the plants in my garden Its obvious that I enjoy the challenge of growing big. I embrace the unusual, the bigger the stranger the better.
This tree is planted totally in the wrong place but I love the statement that it makes “ Big is good “.

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A reflection on today.
It’s a picture about journeying going from one place to another trusting God. Even through I can’t see the destination it’s ok. Even if that distinction scares me it’s ok.
Even if the light is two bright for me to see with my eyes that’s also ok. It’s my heart that sees and feels Gods light. And it’s that love in my heart that I follow and listen to.

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Ficus Carcia
Yesterday this Fig tree was being deprived of light from a very overgrown Rowan tree.
In Pruning the Rowan tree I removed its fruit. The pruning will gave the fig tree light so it’s fruit can ripen.
Following Jesus means I have to make sacrifices. I can’t be fruitful if I’m being chocked by others and deprived of light.

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Leucanthemum Vulgare.
In plant symbolism the ox eye daisy represents patience.
I love all what this plant stands for. The beauty in the normal. Finding beauty in what others may see as Vulgare ( common ).

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1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Good News Translation (GNT)

Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;  love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs;  love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

I choose you.

I choose you.
I dug you up and moved you.
I knew you would take over, I knew you would spread and thrive in my garden.
You are greedy, feeding, chocking indiscriminately you grow.
Excluding light, depriving nourishment, yet I let you grow.
I choose you. I planted you.

I have spent the morning weeding my garden. One particular troublesome plant took up most of my time. It’s a plant that I desired and wanted. I knew it was a bad idea when I planted it. My want was bigger than my horticulture knowledge. My want was bigger than the hours needed to maintain this thug of a plant.
Removing and reducing this plant I was suddenly stuck how it was like forgiveness.
The plant was a problem that I was able to deal with. It has to be dealt with otherwise it will outgrow and destroy my garden.
It will stop other plants fruiting, it will prevent seeds from forming, it will overpower.
Kneeling in the garden digging out its invasive roots the power of Gods grace was overpowering.
That connectedness to the soil, to life and how fragile it can be. How much we need to nurture and hold creation.How God is in everything we do.
Removing this plant, decreasing its size, is not about control. It’s about acknowledging it’s spreading nature. Understanding that its roots run deep. It’s a woodland plant not really suitable for the garden. It’s doing what it was created for, to grow and survive.

In reducing its size I make space for light and fresh growth.
Reducing this plant was totally for my benefit ( not the plants ) Just as forgiveness is not for the other person but for me. Forgiveness gives me space, that allows me to grow. Forgiveness removes the choking thoughts and emotions, it breaks me free from the roots that trap me. Forgiveness allows light and warmth back into my life. Forgiveness is not an emotion but a choice that I must make. As with the gardening, it’s a choice.
My plant will keep coming back, keep trying to take over my garden. I will never stop having to reduce it. Just as all my life I will need to turn to God and ask for forgiveness. Without forgiveness, my heart will harden and I will fail to trust and see the beauty that surrounds me.

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Matthew 18:21-22 The Message (MSG)

21 At that point, Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.