Thursday, August 03, 2006

What’s growing in my garden…

Allium (at least that’s what I think I’ve got growing in my garden) The purple one, not the little yellow dill.

Annual Fleabane – Not technically in my garden, this has volunteered in a future bed.

Blue flax – I have two kinds of flax growing and have harvested seed from one kind. The other one doesn’t have seed heads yet.

Chrysanthemum – mine are yellow, but haven’t bloomed well the past couple of years since they’ve been choked by curly dock, which I have been pulling out this year.

Columbine – Although mine doesn’t like where I have transplanted it this year and has not flowered.

Dianthus – I have different colors – this one and a couple of shades of red.

Dill (the tiny yellow flower, not the big light purple one)



Marigold – French marigold is growing in different sizes and shades.

Pansy – this flowered even in the depths of winter. Who would have guessed?



Salvia – this has gotten woody and thin. I’m not sure why. It used to be a beautiful plant.

Snapdragon - Mine aren’t doing well this year, perhaps due to crowding and a late start.

Spearmint/Peppermint – This is awesome, and makes wonderful tea.

Tarragon – particularly wonderful in chicken dishes, this herb has many wonderful uses.

Thyme – mine has a wonderful lemony scent and flavor that is a wonderful tea when steeped in boiling water and the result poured over ice.

Verbena – a favorite of mine, I hope this comes back next year.

Yarrow - the version I have is pink, though it seems to get a little paler each year.

Yellow Toadflax “wild snapdragon” – Mom warned me this would take over, and it is, but I’m enjoying it.

Zinnia – red, pink and orange flowers in both flower beds. It would be great if it reseeds itself.

Sunflowers – I shouldn't even include these, because I've pulled most of them out and will probably pull out the rest if they keep refuse to grow upright and fall all over my flowers. These volunteered from seed fallen out of my bird feeders.

Well, this is a lot, but not all of what is growing at my house. How about yours?

Herbal Remedy

In the past I've mentioned my garden, which at present time consists of the planter beds that run the length of the house, a 4 ft. quarter circle at the edge of the driveway, and a few potted plants.

The rest of the yard is a horror of dying weeds, half finished sprinkler system with open trenches and curling black pipe poking out of the ground, and in a few spots some of the grass seed I've spread twice this year is taking in the wimpiest way.

What has done remarkably well this year are my herbs. I have harvested them over and over, and most of the time you will find several bunches of herbs drying in my kitchen. what I haven't found is the appropriate way to hang them. I need to hang a rack or something. In fact, I think I'll head out when I'm done blogging. The pictures I cannot find are of my mint, which is in flower at the moment, dill weed, sprouted from handfuls of twenty-five year old dill seed thrown into the garden on a whim, and the lemon thyme. Lemon thyme is an incredible herb, with a lovely aroma, and it actually makes a great herbal tea (correctly known as a tisane). I also am growing yarrow, used in herbal remedies and remarkable for being easy to grow, split and transplant. Tarragon is another favorite, which grows like a weed, and I'm considering using it as a border plant.

Rosemary smells wonderful, but I need to grow more of it. I dearly love freshly made rolls made with rosemary. In fact, there isn't an herb in my garden including previously unmentioned basil, oregano and cilantro, that doesn't smell wonderful. Rubbing a leaf or a flower between my fingers releases a wonderful aroma that soothes the senses and gives a lift to my mood.

I plan to grow lemon thyme between the stepping stones in the back yard, to release it's scent with each step. Adding a raised bed for the lavender, I would like to try various varieties until I find what works best in this climate, and begin to harvest it for the aroma, to scent drawers and closets. I love to walk through a yard with pleasant aromas coming at you as a surprise as you examine the variety of plants, or listen to the birds flitting from plant to feeder.

Well, I'm heading out but before I go I will take a quick smell of the various herbs in my garden.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Desperation & Intervention

Sitting in church this morning the speaker asked us to think of the things in our lives which are our places of desperation. As he suggested many areas where people find those places, I found many of them ringing true with me. In the area of work, there are the joint struggles of running a construction firm and beginning real estate in a down market. In the area of family, there is the struggle of my dad's health problems, wanting to help but unable to do so, the rift that has developed between some family members over that issue. I have a son in Iraq, a daughter in California, marrying someone I don't know who does not share our faith, and another son heading back to college. In the area of finances, while we make money (at least on paper) we are often cash poor. In the area of health, well, I don't want to go into that again. There are often the struggles just to deal with loneliness. Well, if you've read my blog you know what I'm talking about.

The thing is, that we are not meant to live without struggles, and perhaps we aren't meant to understand what is going on. It isn't that we are supposed to solve the problems, but that we are to walk through the problems with Christ. We are to learn who God is and how he acts for us in the midst of adversity, and how he wants to walk with us, so that we begin to walk in faith and trust.

Indeed, how else should we walk? If the Old Testament is to be taken as history (and I believe that it is), then we should remember that when things were at their bleakest God stepped in. When three of the children of Isreal, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzer, they were bound and thrown into a furnace so hot that the soldiers who had thrown them in died.

When the King took a look, he saw not three rotisseried Isrealites, but four men, unbound, walking in the furnace. The fourth man, according to the king was the Son of God. God stepped in when things appeared to be at their worst. These guys refused to bow to a false idol. They followed their God at all cost. And God was with them to the point of keeping them from singed hair, clothing or even the smell of smoke. I guess the point for me is once again to remember that God is in the business of caring for and taking care of those who are his own. I have no reason for panic. If there were a time for panic, being bound and ordered to be thrown into a furnace heated up to seven times what it had been before would be the time. When the soldiers were killed by the heat and flames, I would likely have turned into a blubbering fool. The panic I feel when things go wrong is unworthy of my experience of God's caring intervention in the circumstances of my life. My past experience is of a God who cares and never leaves me alone in the midst of trials. I may not understand the trial, the sickness, the financial difficulty, the family trouble, the turmoil in the world, injustice, whatever, but God has never failed me. Not ever.

A song I have sung says "Sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms his child." I have found this to be true. Thinking on the faithfulness of a God who does not change, may not make me understand the trial, but it does give me hope and quiet confidence that this too shall pass.

So in the midst of a persistent depression, (a mild one, don't worry) I trust that this too shall be a season in which God displays his faithfulness, his love and his abundant mercy. Why do I doubt that the God who kept Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego safe in the inferno will care for me? God intervenes on my behalf during times of desperation.