A Season of Heat

While enduring the weather’s daily heat advisories or even “excessive heat” warnings recently, I noticed some of the leaves on my roses were edged in shades of burnt yellow. Although above ground is sweltering or even frying the foliage, below ground much activity is taking place for the overall benefit of the rose bush or any other plant life for that matter. The purpose of these hot days is to force the roots of any given plant to plunge deep within the soil in search of nourishing water.

DreamComeTrue.web.sig.Portland.8.9.16.jpg

“Dream Come True” captured at Portland, Oregon’s International Rose Test Garden.

Typically, the leaves of your rose bush will tell you what it needs particularly in the hot season of summer. If you see burnt edges on the leaves or the leaves appear to be wilted or even borderline crunchy, your plant needs a deep watering. Make sure you put the hose at the base of the bush and let it saturate the ground about a foot deep or for several minutes at a time. Otherwise, a quick watering will promote shallow root growth, which is not healthy. If your rose bush has a plethora of yellow leaves, it may have received too much water or may be suffering  from heat stress. Should you have a dark colored mulch, such as my favorite cocoa hull mulch, it could cause the lower leaves to experience too much heat and turn yellow.

Overall, the leaves will dictate when to water and when to skip it. You don’t want to water unnecessarily or too often as it could actually damage the roots. Rather, when you start noticing the leaves drooping a bit or feeling slightly harder than normal, it’s time to water. Mark on your calendar when you’ve watered as well as several days later when you noticed the leaves looking and feeling rather rough. You then will have a good indication of how many days your rose bush can go between watering – just subtract a day or two before they get droopy or rough. Bottom line, throughout this season of heat, a fine balance of sunlight, heat, and watering is a must. Don’t be afraid of the ongoing heat and how it may damage your plant. Let the rose bush learn to extend it’s roots deep within the soil and let the leaves tell you what the plant needs and when.

StrikeItRick.web.sig.Portland.8.9.16

“Strike It Rich” captured at Portland, Oregon’s International Rose Test Garden.

Similarly, in our daily lives, we go through seasons of intense heat. And while our leaves, or outward displays, may moan and groan in our discomfort, take courage in knowing this is a season of perseverance. A season of heat to force our roots to plunge deep into the living soil of an immeasurable God. During such seasons of perseverance, our roots are invited to run deep into the river of life flowing from the one and only Jesus Christ. Many will succumb to the misery or the heat…many will give up and die off…while others will take the opportunity to go stronger within the deep wells of their soul soil. They will be able to endure brutal winters and blustering winds because their roots are firmly planted. Consequently, those that endure the season of heat, will be able to endure all seasons for they are “ever-blooming” roses.

Ever-Learning

aphid

{photo credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey}

Now that it appears Spring has fully sprung, I discovered an influx of aphids enjoying my aspiring rose buds. Aphids are tiny insects that smother the tips of rose canes, foliage, and buds while sucking the life out of any given plant. Left unchecked they can damage a rose bush and therefore, prevent a hopeful bud from blooming. Aphids often camouflage with the greenery of many plants, although they can come in a variety of colors. Perplexed as to why an abnormal amount of aphids were clinging to my canes this Spring, I reached out to my local rose society for answers. Despite my roses’ healthy foliage, nutritious soil, and lack of disease, most likely the mild winter didn’t suppress the previous year’s aphid population and their eggs allowing for more to flourish this year. Thankfully, with rose gardening comes an informative community of rosarians ready to help one succeed in growing beautiful roses whether through your local rose society or online. Facebook groups offer a fun way to see blooms from all around the world while getting answers fast! Regardless if one is educated through the web, books, experience or all of the above, gardening, particularly rose gardening, requires an attitude of ever-learning!

Similarly, I have found as a rose in God’s garden, we too need an ever-learning attitude for there is always more to learn about God, His Word, and His principles. After all, it shouldn’t surprise us that there is an infinite amount to learn about an infinite God. If you aren’t growing in God, then you probably are shriveling just as the aphids do to the foliage of a rose. Perhaps now is the time to reach out to your local body of Christ, being the church, to get the answers, accountability, and the encouragement you need to thrive just as I needed to reach out to my local rose society for help.

To learn more about treating aphids and other insects commonly found in the garden, get a copy of my book Ever-Blooming During the Good, the Bad, and the Bugly.

New Life and Purrfect Opportunities

warmingkittenAfter the dormancy of winter, I welcome new life and new opportunities sprouting forth this Spring. The birds joyfully sing and the foliage of my roses burst into a song of their own. Spring has once more resurrected my garden and soul! Oh, what happy days!

While dumping potting soil into a new container one sunny and recent Spring day, I heard a distinct sound that differed from the usual twitters of my flying friends. I stopped tilling the soil to simply listen. As it’s frantic cries beckoned my curiosity, I discovered a rejected newborn kitten within the boundaries of my yard. One of the local and very pregnant alley cats frequently napped in my garden, but apparently on this particular day she moved a large piece of cardboard from our recycle bin area to make herself a temporary home to give birth in. For whatever reason, she opted to remove this tiny, gray, and fiesty kitten from her nest. Hoping this little guy had just wandered away, I waited from within my home watching to see if Momma Cat would retrieve her helpless kitten. As I anxiously peered out my window, storm clouds approached threatening to drown the abandoned newborn. The drops came fast and furious while Momma Cat still refused to rescue her kin. I had no choice but to make a dash to retrieve the frightened baby. I quickly bathed it and warmed it to my chest. A few hours later, Momma Cat began putting one kitten after another outside the nest rejecting all four of her litter. I read feral mother cats are more likely to become overwhelmed, stressed, and malnourished forfeiting their parental rights in order to simply survive. kittens.5daysNaturally, my husband and I rescued the crying kittens.

God surely has a sense of humor because just the other day I was wishing my tubes weren’t tied. Suddenly, I have quadruplets! To my surprise and delight, these precious babies require much of the same care a human infant requires: Feeding them every couple of hours or so, burping them, wiping their tooshies before and after feedings, and many loads of laundry. I am sleep deprived and exhausted just like any mom caring for her newborn. Nevertheless, I am grateful for this resurrection season of new life and new opportunities! It’s simply purrfect!

Getting Dirty For God

bareroootsoakingUpon letting the roots of my newly purchased bare root rose soak in a bucket of water for approximately 24 hours, I decided to recruit my 11 year old son in helping me plant it. Although willing to help me out, my son was not keen on getting his hands too dirty. After all, his hands prefer Legos and videos games. Nevertheless, I figured he could use the sunshine and learn a thing or too in the process. After choosing the desired area of where I wanted to plant my new rose, we saturated the ground to make the digging easier while also testing the drainage of soil. My son and I then took a few turns plunging the shovel in the dirt till we reached the width and depth we needed. By this point, we were ready to transplant the bare root rose from being in the bucket filled with water to it’s permanent home in the ground. Because the ground was reasonably muddy, I put on pink rubber gloves to protect my freshly painted nails. Apparently, even I don’t like to get my hands too dirty!

I proceed to create a mound of soil in the shape of a pyramid within the hole so I could rest the rose on top of the mound while sprawling it’s roots out as best as possible for optimal growth. barerootplanted.webWhile holding the rose in one hand, or glove I should say, I used the other to pack the dirt around the roots as well as the dirt around the base of the rose till she was firmly secure. Overall, the process of planting our newly adopted rose was a success, but we sure did make a muddy mess.

Many days later, I reflect on how we as Christians often like the beauty of our Christian traditions and concepts much like we enjoy the beauty of roses or the idea of a lovely garden. pinkdirtygloves.webHowever, we don’t usually like to be too inconvenienced by getting our hands dirty. It’s far easier to be comfortable in our faith journey or to be what I call “convenient Christians” than followers of Christ willing to follow Him all the way to our own cross and eventual resurrection. More often we prefer to stand around like my son and watch others get dirty for God. Or if we do take the plunge, we set limits on our love by wearing gloves so the depth of our devotion doesn’t stain our nails, alter our appearance, or even transform us.And yet, Christ’s devotion willingly took the depth of a few nails to remove our sinful stains with the hopes we’d be firmly rooted in His garden.

Chocolate and Roses

20160324_152006

“Sweet Drift” enjoys cocoa hull mulch.

When you think of chocolate and roses, Valentine’s Day may come to mind, but did you know there is mulch that smells like chocolate? Cocoa hull mulch or cocoa shell mulch is simply the shell of the roasted cocoa bean. This economical, organic, and dark colored mulch is readily available at many nurseries in the area or online and boasts a divine smell as well as other benefits to your garden. Some benefits to this aromatic mulch is it improves the soil since it has a pH of  5.8 and puts nitrogen back into the soil, whereas rapidly decaying organic mulches reduce nitrogen level. It also helps retains moisture and cocoa hull mulch helps prevents weeds as it interlocks together when wet creating a nice barrier. In addition, it helps repel slugs, snails, termites, and some bugs.Another benefit is cocoa shell mulch gets darker as it ages not lighter like most mulches.

A word of caution though if you have small children or pets, cocoa shell mulch can cause physical illness or death if consumed in large quantities, but most animals would not be attracted to it in the first place. Nevertheless, something to consider. Another factor to be aware of when considering this mulch is a harmless mold can grow on it if over-watered or when in very humid conditions with not much air circulation. A simple solution of vinegar mixed with some water will resolve this issue though.

Personally, because of it’s smell, textures, natural resource, and benefits to my roses, I am a big fan of cocoa hull mulch! It seems everyday is Valentine’s in my garden!