Monday, June 8, 2009

Nip it in the Bud

I'm new to this gardening thing so I don't really have a green thumb...yet; but I want one, so I'm working on it. I really need one, too, since I am the proud caretaker of 105 Indian Hawthorns, 11 Sago Palms, 8 Boxwoods, 5 Camellias, 4 Gardenias, 3 Lantanas, 2 window boxes (that contain a total of 10 flowers), and 26 potted plants. Whew! How did all this happen to someone without a green thumb, you might ask? Well, let me clue you in on how this whole thing got started....

Back in 2004, my husband and I bought a home to restore. It was a lovely old place ("old" being the key word here; circa 1890) that needed much tender loving care. Anyway, after five years of tender loving sweat and hard work, the house was finally finished. But one thing was missing: plants, flowers, bushes... So after much discussion about what, when, where and how, I suddenly became a gardener. Yep, I went from zero to 60 (or 172) practically over night. The house and yard looked awesome! But, man, was I in for a rude awakening.

At first I thought the watering routine was going to kill me. Ha! Now I laugh at watering. Pshaw! That is probably the easiest thing about taking care of all these guys; and now, maybe the most enjoyable. There are soooo many more aspects to keeping my plants looking alive and adorable than just watering. Some of the details are pleasant, others...not so much. To date, I've discovered that pruning is my least favorite activity, though perhaps the most productive. It is a backbreaking chore that takes several hours. But in the end, it produces good things, better things.

I recently discovered that my Indian Hawthorns were being infected with a fungus called Entomosporium Leaf Spot. (Sounds pretty bad, huh? I know!) This fungus spreads from plant to plant when water splashes on an infected plant and carries diseased spores to a neighboring plant. WHAT?! Remember... I ONLY have 105 of them! So... this weekend I went about purging them from the dreaded spot. It took several hours of bending, examining, snipping and pinching to rid them of the infected leaves--and any that looked like they might be infected. I know that if I don't get rid of "the spot" while it's only on a few leaves, it will continue to get worse until it kills the whole plant. And, I'm not willing that any of them should perish! Hummm... reminds me of a Bible verse....

Anyway, it seems that the more I've tended my plants, the more I've learned about LIFE. Pretty cool, huh?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says it like this: "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more."

In the Book of Mark He also said, "If your hand or your foot gets in God's way, chop it off and throw it away. You're better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You're better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell."

Now I get it! I want my plants to be healthy and beautiful, so I'm willing to sacrifice the diseased leaves to produce a much stronger plant.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father."

Way cool.