Friday, March 19, 2021

Lessons From The Garden/Uri Update

Hi, Dear Friends,
How are you? I hope that you are doing well.

If you have been following, you might remember that I spent a lot of time in the garden last year. 
It's my place to escape when there is crazy going on.
2020 had a lot of crazy! 

I don't know about you but the week before Covidversary, Bill and I both felt weird. We were out of sorts, if you will. I'm a believer in cyclical depression. I had it every February since it was the month my mother died. There was something familiar about the weather, my brother's birthday, and Valentine's Day that brought back those memories of that February when I was ten years old. After decades, freedom came by recognizing what it was and that I had a choice. I could remain positive instead of giving in to my feelings. It worked. I can think about my mother in February but not descend into a pit of depression. 

Since it was the first anniversary of lockdown, I thought our funk related to that but we did give in to some reflections about the past year. I cannot believe it's been a year. It went slow at first but then it flew by.  My initial thought, last March, was that I needed to focus on what God wanted to teach me. That if the time wasn't used for reflection, then the lesson would get lost in the struggles. There have been a lot of blessings that have come in the last year, but there has been pain as well. There were victories in some areas but failure in others. 

One shortfall, is that the busyness of life, once again got in the way of Bible reading. My hope is that I'll begin each day with reading and reflection but as soon as that coffee is in my hand, my chores begin. There is always something that needs to be done around here. Many times those chores were garden related and many hours were spent out in the yard last year. I did a lot of pruning, clipping, clearing, planting. 
The unpredictability of the situation made me feel that life was short and it led me to plant some roses, hydrangeas. These were plants that I always wanted and I never took the time to find a place for them in our landscape. I wanted to savor the joy and beauty of our garden. 
We fell in love with our new trees out in East Texas. 

Spring of 2021 was on the way. We have the place out in East Texas and that landscape was getting started. The yard in town was in good shape after last season. I could focus my time and attention on our new property.  I was happy about how everything looked. My gardening skills were increasing and I was proud of that. I was ready to garden out in the country. Gardening was something I could control at a time when everything seemed out of control. 

Hello, Uri. 

Weather is unpredictable. Bill read me the forecast 10 days prior to Uri. When he said that it would be 2˚, I didn't believe him. It would be easier to believe that it would be 111˚ in August. 2˚ was unheard of in our lifetime. It ended up being  -2˚ at our place in East Texas and it was 1˚ here. The temperature dipped below freezing for 10 days. Bill and I were spared the other problems that had become national news but we had annoying issues just the same. By the time all was resolved, I was over it. I never want to see snow again. (at least until next Christmas.)

So let me preface this by saying, all in all, we were blessed but my garden and yards took a hit.

Things looked terrible.
 Even the southern gardening experts don't know for sure what to expect because this was unprecedented. 

As I looked around, it wasn't lost on me that the garden that was my solace in the last year was decimated. My beautiful pines, junipers, roses, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles, gardenias, azaleas, and bulbs were all at the mercy of nature to recover or not. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." popped into my head. Had I created an idol by creating a beautiful yard? Did I value it above other things? Life last year was unpredictable. I couldn't control what was going on in the lives of others. I was learning that I couldn't worry about them either and that I needed to leave others in God's hands. He loves my friends and family more than I do. The garden was my escape - a place of solace. I found that I was less inclined to give in to worry when I was out in the yard. 

Yet, it can't be a replacement or escape from my spiritual growth.
 It can be held on loosely, if that makes sense. 

Something that I thought could control was, of course, completely out of my control. My control over the garden was an illusion. It's a gift to be enjoyed and not idolized. 

I have a big corner on southwest corner of the yard that was decimated by the storm. Three 25 year old wax leaf ligustrum shrubs are dead. One in particular had grown in such a way that it was a beautiful small tree which canopied over my garden statue. I couldn't have done it if I tried and I loved what nature had done. It was an entrance to what I called my "Secret Garden".

Bill remembered that the storm of '83 killed a lot of wax leaf ligustrum. I knew that they were probably dead but I gave them time to recover. After several weeks, scratch tests showed that they were dead. Snapping some branches confirmed it. Experts are saying that they could grown back from the root but I don't have 25 years to get them back to what they were. Not to mention that I'm leery that deep freezes could be in our future. My gardening guru also confirmed that they were dead. I could wait a few more weeks to see but I didn't need to wait. Coming back from the root wouldn't be pretty and I'm not that patient.
I cut them down this week and I cleaned up all the leaves from the beds. The rock terraces got some attention. 

Here it is after Uri. 

 I stare at that ugly area wondering what to plant. 

Before Uri.

Death in the garden is an opportunity for change. I'm not one to cut down something that is still alive in order to achieve change. It has to be dead or dying in order for me to alter the landscape. 
I don't know what I'll do. It won't look the same but I hope that it will look pretty. 

This world is not our home also came to mind. 
While I'm to find joy in God's creation, it's no substitute for God. 

That area of my "Secret Garden" is no more but the opportunity to create something new is ahead. 
In the meantime lessons from the garden continue. 

"God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble." 
Thanks for stopping by! I always appreciate it. 

Tulips, daffodil and pansy pictures are current. The rest are from my archives. 


  1. Katie, I really appreciate your sharing your raw feelings in this post. It's so very compelling on issues of spirituality, sadness and solace and the way we handle life's situations. Uri absolutely dealt a real blow to Texas friends and family, and I'm especially sorry for what you found to be solace during COVID literally uprooted. As gardeners, we become very attached with our involvement of nurturing and, although each failure is an opportunity to learn and try new things, it's hard at first. I remember when we first planted our landscape with white birch trees vs crepe myrtle, and chose based on our USDA cold hardiness zone. Turns out our zone was reevaluated within a few years of planting to be more southerly (6B to 7A), and the crepe myrtle would have been the better choice (we are in WV, the most northern southern state, the most southern northern state). It broke my heart to have to cut down the eventual diseased white birch. I hope you find new energy with spring and the hope for new plantings. Your current photos portend great things!

  2. What a deeply thoughtful post, Katie. I know this had to be yet another loss, with your beautiful garden. And losses must be mourned, large and small. But sometimes things go so that other things can grow and present their own gifts. I hope so. I know with your dedication and love of the garden taht no matter what you do, it will be beautiful.

  3. Glad you two safely weathered the storm. The freeze killed some things, next winter will be too warm for tulips....always something
    I’ve had similar thoughts about how I’m using my energies and attention during covd world. Thanks for sharing. Gail