By: Marcy Barthelette

For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew. Job 20:19 NLT   

There’s lots of digging going on in our yard these days, some of it by the paws of four-legged, bushy-tailed critters burying nuts and acorns for winter. But the two-legged critters have been doing our share as well. In spring we overhauled our front and side yard landscape beds and I alluded then to some projects on the drawing board for fall. Things have changed a bit since then. The spring work was about fifty-fifty between the two of us, but after my summer in re-hab and with warnings from the medical professionals with whom I’ve been working, I’m gardening with restrictions. That translates to my being more of a supervisor and idea person with Ken being stuck doing the lion’s share of the physical labor. He’s been great about it and we’ve been taking our time.

We began with a small expansion of one of the two remaining backyard beds; our largest one was removed last fall. That expansion allowed us to relocate many of the plants from the remaining bed to the new area and eliminate the bed they came from. Moving forward with only one bed, Ken’s mowing and trimming will be less stressful and my watering and weeding will be minimized.

Our expansion was no easy task. We have two young but good-sized maples that immerse us in amazing color each fall and provide wonderful shade on hot summer days. They also have massive root systems and Ken had to remove a number of good-sized roots in order to attain the space we needed. A general rule of thumb is that a tree has a root system below ground that equals the width and depth of the above-ground canopy. Obviously, this offers support for the tree to stand on its own and also burrow deep below the surface to find water. And that brings us to the subject of the taproot, the central root of the tree or any plant, the one that burrows deepest. You could think of it as the underground trunk.

While we had to rid our new space of some feeder roots, those that branch out from the tap in search of water and nutrients for our trees, we obviously had no intention of removing our beautiful trees. But we did have to remove smaller plants for relocation by digging deep and capturing as much of their taproots as possible. Many indigenous plants don’t transplant successfully as they typically have a very deep tap which helps them to survive in adverse conditions and when the taproot is severed, the plant often withers and dies in its new home because it has been rendered severely disabled. Ken dug carefully and transferred each plant to a pre-dug hole and I was in charge of properly covering the roots and providing plenty of water to get them started again.

A strong root system is key to the survival of any plant, starting with a sturdy taproot and supported by many feeders of gradually diminishing size. And we, as Christians, must tap into the nourishment required to exist in a world filled with opinions that differ from our own. Without God as our very strong taproot, Jesus as our living example, and the Holy Spirit as our daily guide, we too will wither and become unable to thrive. As we branch further into our root system, we discover that family and friends, teachers and mentors, and even strangers are all vital links to the nourishment so necessary to our Christian growth.

Next spring Ken and I will have a well-designed landscape system in our yard because we have studied and planned well. Our transplants have all been given everything they need to survive in their new homes without disturbing the welfare of those around them. How I pray we can do as well with our personal relationships. Former pastor and guest for our thirty-fifth-anniversary celebration, Lee Strawhun, introduced a new word that we should all ascribe to; that word is Godfidence. Try that one-on for size as you try to make significant differences in the world around you. Placing our confidence in anything or anyone other than God will always ultimately result in failure to grow. So wherever you are planted, do your best to provide positive nourishment to all the roots around you so that we can grow together as a strong family of believers.

But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.”
Matthew 15:13


One Response to “Taproots”

  1. Linda Perkin says:

    As always, you have entertained, and taught me some very necessary truths. Thank you Marcy.

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