The Garden

I imagine her at the flowerbed planting her perennial garden – peonies of white, pink and burgundy along the back. Next to these beauties, bearded iris, and in front, a vibrant orange poppy, a Shasta daisy and hot pink beebalm. And in the corner, several lily plants. Now what to fill in the empty space between? She chose a lovely spreading plant with leaves of white and green with lacy, delicate blooms. On both sides of the perennial garden, she – the lady who lived here before me – planted wildflowers – delphiniums, prairie coneflowers, catnip, and Chinese forget-me-nots.

Now the garden is mine to tend. The first spring came. I was delighted when the peonies, poppies, and irises bloomed! Oh, if these spring beauties would only last longer! The green and white plant filled in all the spaces and made the little flower garden complete. It soon crept under the border into the adjacent wildflower bed. I had to know its name: Goutweed! What a nasty name for a lovely plant! A deer munched on its leaves and made a bed in them.

The daisies and bee balm bloomed in July. The lilies never bloomed. I blamed the deer.

Now in my second year up north, I know to expect the peonies and irises to bloom in June, just before Father’s Day. This year, the poppy plant didn’t bloom and there were only a few iris blooms. I noticed a plant growing in the middle of the wildflower garden and looked it up with a plant app. Goutweed, it said, though the leaves were solid green, not the green and white I’ve come to know.

The lilies didn’t bloom so I moved them.. The bee balm plant also didn’t bloom. I couldn’t even find it in the mess of goutweed leaves.

The nice garden space filler had become an out of control weed. I told my husband how it was spreading and he said, “I’m going to spray weed killer on it.” “What about the deer,” I asked. “And the ground squirrel that’s been hiding under the peonies?” I knew that killing the leaves wouldn’t do anything to the roots. I had to dig them up. This is my garden to tend.

I hand-pulled the leaves from the goutweed, then dug up the rhizomes. The goutweed was growing between the irises so I dug the irises up too and saw that the rhizomes were intertwined.

To rid the garden of goutweed for good, I will have to be persistent about pulling up new growth and may have to cover up the flowerbed with plastic next spring to keep the plants from photosynthesizing.

While I was digging up the roots last week, a hot and sweaty task, I thought about how invasive they were. It only takes a small amount to take over a flowerbed. It only takes a small amount to crowd out the good plants.

I thought about my Father, the Gardener. This world is his garden to tend. He cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit and prunes those that do so they will be even more fruitful. I thought about how I must keep a sharp eye out for weeds in my own heart so that no one misses out on the grace of God because of me.

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

Hebrews 12:14-17 (The Message)

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