Renewal is at Hand.
Several years ago, not long after we moved from Stonham Aspal to Coddenham, we started work in our garden. We planned, planted and waited for the flowers and shrubs to blossom and grow. The garden had been well established in our previous house, so we were thoroughly enjoying being able to create something here.
Time passed and the flowers bloomed. The fatsia japonica grew to above knee height and looked as though it liked our soil. The leaves on the cotinus were prolific and we were very proud of our efforts!
And then came the morning when we came downstairs and discovered that the deer had paid us a visit during the night! Not a leaf of either the fatsia japonica or the cotinus remained. They’d eaten them – and just about everything else that looked tasty – virtually down to the soil!
We tried several remedies to encourage the plants to regrow. Sound machines that were meant to make a noise when the deer passed by and scare them, though I swear that if deer could laugh they would have done so at these ineffective deterrents. We put a bucket over some of the plants during the night which obviously stopped the deer from eating any more, but equally obviously wasn’t a long-term solution.
The last straw came when, early one morning, I surprised 8 or 9 of them in the garden, nibbling away.
We fenced off the garden and, after discovering that, not put off, they found how to come up the drive, we put in a five bar gate as well and contemplated a sign saying “Deer Not Welcome Here”. Though they could easily have jumped the fence, they obviously decided that it was no longer worth the effort and, so far anyway, have left to frustrate someone else’s attempts.
It would have been easy to dig everything up and start again. Most of the plants looked past the point of no return. But we left them there, with not much hope, though we transplanted the fatsia to give it a fresh start……
Over the years since, we’ve had our successes and failures, as do all gardeners – the delphinium that rotted from the soil up, the ceanothus that stubbornly refuses to put out more than four or five flowers every year, the clematis that looks nothing like the picture on the label when we bought it.
But if this period of lockdown and some enforced gardening have taught us anything, it’s that nature never gives up. Even when you’re convinced that leaving what appears to be a dead plant in the ground is a pointless exercise, she can surprise you time and again.
The delphinium that was at death’s door last year has grown abundantly this year, bushy and bud laden. The bulbs I planted the wrong way up have found their way to the surface. The fuchsia that was cut back to a small dead looking stalk after serious neglect last year, has sprouted lots and lots of new growth. The seeds I planted months ago in small pots and then forgot to water have, after a little care, suddenly germinated!
And after 4 or 5 years, the black grass that the deer decimated has finally regrown to its natural height and breadth. The cotinus is taller and more leafy than ever. And the fatsia, whilst I don’t think it will ever be totally the same, is to be congratulated on its perseverance!
There are so many positive messages in those thoughts – for us as well as our plants.
We can be knocked back time and again by life’s equivalent of deer or pest. Certainly, these last few months have knocked the stuffing out of many of us. We can feel that we don’t have the energy to bloom again, put down new roots, reach for the sky. Life can turn us upside down, like those bulbs I planted, and yet we can still manage to reach up to the sky. We can feel buried under worries and concerns, and yet, with a little loving care, we suddenly find ourselves back on the surface.
We can take inspiration from nature that’s all around us. We will thrive again. We will blossom and bloom. We will reach for the sky.
Last Sunday was Pentecost (Whitsun.) It’s when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’s disciples – thereby fulfilling Jesus’s promise that he would send the Spirit for all humankind. We rejoice in the fact that God, through Jesus, made all things new. Now we celebrate how Jesus, through the Spirit, renews us and brings us hope, joy, strength, comfort and peace – to help us thrive again.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43)