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Pruned: An Allegory

May 2, 2012

After such a busy few weeks, the rose in my front yard has taken on frightening proportions. Mildewed by the cool weather, her perky pink blooms are faded into dead, papery clusters like wads of dried, wet tissue. Spent petals litter the ground. Untended, angry, thorny stalks are reaching heights of 15′ or more.

Poor Gertrude Jekyll looks like what happens when good roses go mad.

It’s only been a few weeks since I last pruned her. Ok, more than a month. Neglected, her shape is catawampus and pathetic.

She won’t bloom again until she’s pruned. She’ll keep growing in crazy, malformed ways, but she won’t bloom.

Really, Gertrude is just going to get worse and worse.

That is, until I pull out the shears and my special gloves and give her a little nip and tuck. It doesn’t take long – just 15 minutes and all the dead and ugly and useless is trimmed away. She’s back into shape. The diseased leaves are removed.

Now she can put all her energy into blooming again.

Gertrude Jekyll – yes, that’s her name. I also have Graham Thomas, Sharifa Asma, Jaune Desprez, Patricia Austin and Joseph’s Coat.

14 in total and I know every one of them by name.

I crawled around on all fours when I was seven months pregnant with Scooby, putting them each into the ground. Too big to squat, I crawled from hole to hole that my patient husband would dig and refill, while I held each bare-root plant steady. We filled the holes with peat moss and topsoil, and a handful of bonemeal for good measure. I soaked their roots with B vitamins and I watered them weekly as they put down roots.

But my care did not end there – each one has it’s own growth habit and I watch over them daily, snipping off spent blooms, burying slow-release fertilizer in the ground around their base. In the winter I spray them for the attack of mildew that always comes.

And when they succumb, I pull off the diseased leaves and spray again. Gentle, tender ministrations until they bloom once more.

Some are more hardy than others. Some succumb to disease more easily and others pout when they are moved from one location to another.

See how the lilies grow? They don’t worry. They don’t fret. They don’t labor or spin – they simply wait for the Master Gardener.

And He knows every one of us by name.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Trisha permalink
    May 2, 2012 9:09 am

    Beautiful. I love that you know them by name! God’s words to me recently were very similar. It’s time to produce new fruit, and new fruit comes from new growth. We can’t “bloom” or “fruit” on old growth. Time to soak in new food, go to new depths, and allow new to shine forth to His glory. I love that He teaches us about the unseen through what we can see.

  2. May 2, 2012 1:44 pm

    Great illustration. I love David Austin’s roses (and I gather you do, too considering your lineup) but I have killed enough of them that I am a little gun-shy. Our humidity is torture on all but the sturdiest shrub and rugosas; blackspot and Japanese beetles are mainly what I remember about trying to coax those babies into adulthood…

    Looking at your “About” area makes me conclude we have some things in common. I have two boys (and a girl who came along late enough for us to wonder WHAT we were thinking) and I similarly file VBS and other paperwork on a regular basis, although those are still after-hours endeavors for me. For now.

    Happy gardening,

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