Nourish Your Roots

By: Marcy Barthelette

So then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught… Colossians 2:6-7

Look out world, I’m in re-arranging mode! No, it’s not my furniture this time. It’s my perennial beds that need an overhaul. My garden phlox have been struggling because the daylilies and Asiatic lilies are definitely hogging garden space. The phlox like good air circulation and that just wasn’t happening. Thinning out the Asiatic lilies has been my first course of action as their blooms are beginning to wane. Removing about half of each cluster has given me the opportunity to share some bulbs with a young neighbor who is just getting her beds started and a good friend who shares with me whenever she has extra plants. When my Stella D’ Oro daylilies finish their first bloom, I’ll dig a couple of those as well. Maybe I’ll share or maybe I’ll just relocate them. They’ll make an encore appearance in the fall after I find a comfy new home for them. And therein lies the beauty of perennials. If they’re not doing well, or they’re too crowded, or you just don’t like the way they’re arranged, you can dig them up and settle them into a more appealing location. Most of them aren’t very fussy and they often appear happier in new surroundings. Maybe they tire of the same old view as much as I do.

There are some important things to do when relocating perennials or starting from scratch with a new bed. When starting fresh go online or talk to a gardener you trust and learn about plants you might want to try. A refresher course never hurts even if you’re experienced. What kind of soil does a specific perennial favor, does it prefer lots of sun or perhaps need shade during the heat of a summer day? Can it handle being in constantly moist surroundings or does it not like having wet feet? Does it prefer acidic or alkaline soil? What is its optimal height?

After learning all you can, it’s important to have a home prepared for your plants, especially if you’re digging and moving from one location to another, but even when buying new ones, a little advance planning makes the job progress more smoothly. Most soils in the Ozarks will need some amendments. After all, we do have a lot of rock around here. So grab your heavy-duty Ozark tools and grub out the big ones. A little gravel won’t hurt but roots have a hard time penetrating large stones. Look on the bright side, the stones may come in handy for a border around your bed. Now follow the instructions from your research regarding soil additives and you’re ready to shop.

When buying plants, it’s best to look for healthy green leaves and new buds. Some gardeners enjoy the challenge of bringing ailing plants back to life and saving a few pennies at the same time. I’m one of those who will take a chance on the castoffs at our local gardening centers but I don’t recommend that for beginners because there may be no real reward until the following year. But here’s the thing, the real strength of a perennial is in its roots. Nurseries ship bare-root dry plants at appropriate planting times and with proper care in planting and tending, they flourish, just maybe not the first year. So, it stands to reason that a nursery plant that has bloomed and wilted probably still has lots of life left in its roots if cared for properly and given lots of patience. Its roots will continue to anchor it to life-sustaining nutrients.

And, of course, in my world, there’s always a God analogy. In order to grow and flourish, we humans also need good strong roots. They sustain us in the form of family, friends, and particularly faith. When they’re nourished with plenty of “sonlight” (no, that’s not a misprint), living water (from the one who gave all for us), a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit (our constant companion), an intimate relationship with God the Father (who’s only a prayer away) and plenty of love and encouragement, not to mention patience, those roots will burrow deep, spread widely, and surround the lives of everyone you meet. They’ll be just like a warm hug.

As for those perennials, the best advice I have is to become a friend to the neighbors with the prettiest yard, listen to what they have to say, and respect their love of nature. Show them lots of love along the way. Maybe you’ll even find an opportunity to introduce them to Jesus or maybe they’ll already know Him and you’ll have lots in common. When they need to divide perennials, you’ll likely be a benefactor. And you’ll likely get a lot more from the relationship than pretty blooms. Your roots will become stronger too and you’ll be anchored right where you need to be …. in the loving arms of the Father.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17

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