Our Prayer Garden

I have to admit that writing this post has been very challenging for me. As I thought about what our prayer garden is and what it represents my thoughts ran deep, and at times it seems like the answers to what it is, why it exists and how it came to be have turned into questions that that I can not definitively answer. As I struggle to convey the information about our prayer garden I can only pray that God will give me the words I need and that they will perhaps be a blessing to someone who reads them.

Flowers offer more praise to God than man ever shall. ~ Ninian Riley

What Is A Prayer Garden?

When I typed that question into my internet browser this  was but one of the definitions that showed up. I selected it because it does seem fitting.

It said: “Used as a quiet place to relax and recharge, a meditation or prayer garden is a place of peace and tranquility. It’s personal space with no right or wrong design elements. A prayer garden can be a small, private corner of a larger garden, or an entire section of your landscaping may be designed around a theme of thoughtful serenity. Planting perennials helps to avoid stress from constant garden maintenance chores, and including beautiful accents — natural or manmade – helps you focus on positivity.”

What Is Our Prayer Garden? 

It could be called a flower garden or and herb garden because of the vast array of both flowers and herbs that we grow there. It could be called a rock garden because many rocks were used in it’s construction. It could be called a pollinator garden because bees, butterflies and many other pollinating insects are attracted to the various flowers when in bloom. It could be called a memorial garden since we have planted flowers in memory of my mother, my husband’s mother and my Aunt Shirley. It could also be called a friendship garden since many of the plants have been given to me, some by my children, others by my sisters and some that were added this year were sent by a lady who my husband met this year while working at his landscaping job, and when the plants in the garden need to be thinned I often dig the roots and pass them on the family, friends or neighbors who will give them a new home. Our prayer garden is all of these things combined.

 

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Walking up the driveway

It is the center piece of our farm from which everything else seems to radiate. It is bordered to the west by the pond and the east by the driveway with the barn standing on the other side of the drive. The windmill stands directly to the north of the prayer garden, only a few feet outside the garden edge, and the apiary is just a short distance from there. It is not visible from the road so when in bloom it can be a glorious view as you round the bend in the driveway and are greeted buy the colorful display.

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A View of Our Farm From the Road

Honestly while it is this “center piece” that we refer to as the prayer garden, it is the entire farm that evokes feelings of peace and serenity and elicits the desire to pray – to commune with God. While it may seem contradictory, we find that even while working on the farm we are often able to recharge.

In Our Beginning

When we first bought our farm, the property had been unused (by humans) for many years. The previous owner had planned to build a house there so he had done some excavating, put in somewhat of a driveway and the well, but it seemed that it had been at least few years since those things had been done. What I’m trying to say is that things were growing wild. We spent a lot of time exploring, discovering and deciding.

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We wanted to be good stewards of the piece of earth that God had given to us, so there were many decisions to be made. We wanted to make the land useful, that we may grow our food and raise livestock, while utilizing all of what the land could offer and preserving much of it’s natural beauty. Through exploring the land we discovered that God had given us much more than we had prayed for.

One of our early priorities was having access to water.  There was a well on the property but at that time there was no pump to retrieve the water – it was simply a capped well. Since there was no electricity on the property, and that was not a priority, we purchased a hand pump suitable for deep wells and then had the company that drilled the well come out to install the pipes that were needed to hook up the hand pump.

Another thing we needed to do was to protect the well head. It was in an open area and we feared it was at risk of being hit and damaged by some type of vehicle. We purchased a galvanized metal ring and placed it around the outside of the well head then filled the rest of the ring with white stone. It then seemed to be a good area for a flower garden so in the fall we planted tulip bulbs.

The pictures below are what it looked like one spring day in 2012.

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The following day when I arrived at the farm the deer had eaten all of the blossoms off of the tulips and all that remained were stems and leaves. I wanted to cry.

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In the fall of 2012 we decided to have a pond dug. My husband and I have done the majority of the landscaping and building on the farm. Only twice have we called in professionals to do work which was beyond our abilities. The first was digging the pond. The second was building the barn last June.

102_0680While it was necessary to have excavators do the digging, the design of the pond was ours. We spent hours talking about the layout, measuring, staking, then cording off the area that was to be dug out. They needed to stay a certain distance from the tree line on the west side of the property and a certain distance from the well. They were given explicit instructions and my husband was on-site most of the time the work was being done to assure that our expectations were met.

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The above photo was taken in the spring of 2013.

After the pond was dug my husband and I worked together to landscape the area. He brought in top soil with the tractor bucket and we raked it out. We used rocks that we found on the farm to build a retaining wall to prevent soil erosion. I can’t remember exactly what plants we put in at that time but I know they included lavender, salvia and thyme (all deer resistant plants by the way). We then purchased mulch and spread it.

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The large rock was one that was unearthed when the pond was being dug. My husband and I found it appealing so we decided to display it in the garden.

We ordered the windmill that spring. It was a bit pricey but would serve dual purposes. The first would be to pump life sustaining oxygen into the pond. The second was for watering plants during dry spells; so along with the windmill we purchased a pump that would pump water out of the pond. You can read about our off grid irrigation process here. After the windmill arrived my husband and I worked together to assemble it. We then invited family over for a windmill raising party.

Over the past few years the garden has continued to evolve. Many new plants have been added and most of what we have planted there has flourished.  I sometimes find it necessary to remove plants as well.

The photos below were taken over the past two years.

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Why A Prayer Garden?

Now that I have covered the “what is our prayer garden” and told you how it came to be I will address the Why. This is where I was most challenged when putting together this post.

I am not sure when the idea of a prayer garden first came to me or where I even first heard the term. It was likely something that I read about online because that is how we get a lot of information nowadays. I do remember that it was around the time when we were working on landscaping the garden area that I decided that making garden stepping stones was a craft I might enjoy. I experimented with making a couple that I gave away and one that I made that I wanted to place in our garden. 102_0942

On the stone I made for our garden I imprinted one of my favorite Bible verses. For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7. I have found this verse meaningful for many years but even more so after our experience with buying our farm and the blessings we received by waiting on God’s timing. I place the stone in the garden as a continual reminder of how God is always working behind the scenes and if we follow His lead we will be blessed. I think it was around this time that I decided to call this our prayer garden.

I have grown to see the prayer garden as an offering to God – a way to honor and glorify Him, so I was struck when I read the quote at the beginning of this post. These words – Flowers offer more praise to God than man ever shall, were spoken by my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Ninian Riley, who lived from 1725 – 1814. It was while contemplating this post that I received an email from lady named Kathy Strawn, a third cousin that I have never met, and the family historian. She sent some documents that she had created regarding family history and one of the documents contained the above quote.

Upon reading those words I felt an immediate, yet somewhat eerie, connection to this ancestor who lived so long ago. I wondered where did they come from? Where were they documented? Kathy had referenced the Diary of Nancy (Riley) Clarke Salt as the source and an internet search led me to this site where I was able to read Nancy’s diary. Indeed within the pages Nancy explained that as a hobby her grandfather, Ninian, enjoyed tending to flowers a she attributed that quote to him.

This information led me to some questions: is this just coincidence, finding that my distant ancestor had a love of flowers like I do and that his words that were documented more than 1 1/2  centuries ago would so accurately define my feelings? or is there something more – some type of divine inspiration perhaps? These are questions that will certainly not be answered in this lifetime.

While writing this post it also occurred to me that God would likely be pleased with a garden that was built and maintained in His honor. I draw this assumption from the realization that in Genesis 2:8 “The Lord had planted a garden in the East, in Eden; and it was there that he put the man.” God Himself was a gardener and thought the garden to be a fitting place for His greatest creation – man.

I think I will conclude this post by answering a question that may have been on your mind throughout your time reading this – “Do you pray in the garden?” you ask.

Yes, I do pray in the garden, but not as you might imagine. It is when I am on my hands and knees in the dirt, working the soil or pulling weeds, that I feel God’s presence and  am moved to converse with him. I offer prayers of thanksgiving and pray for those in need. I pray for friends and family and if you come to mind I will likely say a prayer for you as well.

I know this post was longer than most of my posts and if you have read to the end I am grateful.

Thank you and God Bless.

 

 

 

 

41 thoughts on “Our Prayer Garden

    1. Thank you. I always have to chuckle when someone compliments our barn. Our builder tried to talk us out of the bright red siding. He said it would stand out like a sore thumb. We told him we wanted to stand out and went with it. We couldn’t be happier.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think it’s very poignant that this is in the centre of your farm, like it’s at the heart of your home. It’s wonderful to see how it’s developed over the years, the decisions you had to make to preserve the natural beauty of the land while helping it flourish. It truly does look beautiful.
    It’s fascinating for you to learn more about your history and ancestors, too. Divine inspiration, I think that would explain it. Sometimes coincidences are just a bit too, well, coincidental!
    Such a beautiful post. I know you found it difficult to write but we never would have known. You wrote it perfectly  ♥
    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Caz for this lovely and encouraging comment. I tend to think very little happens by coincidence. Things happen for a reason even if it is beyond our human understanding.
      Hope you are well, My Friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. God has given you beautiful gifts in both your gardening ability and your ability to put words together beautifully. And you honor him by sharing both of these gifts with the rest of us.💌

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  3. I loved your mention that work on the farm recharges you. I can relate, though through other activities one might consider arduous. Love this post! It felt absolutely genuine and I can tell your prayer garden has significant meaning in your life.

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  4. I believe one of Gods greatest gifts to us is our connection to the earth and nature. There is nothing more calming to my soul then spending time outdoors. Your prayer garden is a beautiful and special place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Faye. I enjoyed going back and looking at pictures as I was putting this post together, Even though it has only been a few years the memories had faded but seeing the pictures made them clear again. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you enjoyed reading Linda. I am glad that I wrote this post to document that part of our journey and I was thankful that I had some pictures because they reminded me how things looked in the early days and how things came together. Thanks for reading.

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      1. I did enjoy it Ruth and was looking forward to seeing what you did after your recent post. It is always nice to see what you have accomplished, and a lot of sweat goes into making a house a home and you first had to clear brush and everything to begin that transition.

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      2. Your mention of clearing brush brings back another set of memories, Linda. The winter after we bought our farm, 2011-2012 was a mild winter. My husband and I spent days/weeks clearing patches of brush. We used lopping shears. We each had a pair (our first tools we bought after buying the farm). It was part of the discovering and deciding that I mentioned. Sometimes amongst the brush we would discover young trees that we would decide to leave in place. It was a time when we bonded with each other as well as our farm.
        I wasn’t blogging at that time and I don’t even have any pictures of it but it is precious memories that he and I share.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I remember that Winter very well Ruth, because I started my walking regimen on Labor Day 2011 and I was happy to be able to walk almost every day the entire Winter as we had very little snow and so mild as you mention. It is hard work that you did and you got many benefits. As to letting the young trees stay in place … next door to me is a huge maple tree.
        I would say 90 percent of the leaves fall onto my property as most of the branches are near my property – it is on City property. The cvouple that originally lived there had just moved in … they found a maple seed had sprouted into a small “tree” – they dug around it, put a little fence around the thing and I am talking a plant that was 6 inches tall –
        it looked ridiculous and my mom and I secretly laughed. They covered it to last over the Winter and again my mom and I laughed at them doing this – we need not have laughed and if I had it to do over again, I’d have yanked the stupid thing out when I saw it there … neighbor has never raked a leaf in her life – sometimes blows them into the street or toward my house – I get between 12-15 yard waste bags of leaves every Fall and when it drops, it is almost at once. Who would have thought it would have survived – wish my mom was here for her to see it, although it was already pretty large and leafy when my mom was still here.

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      4. Linda are you ok? your last sentence has me confused/ concerned.
        It is amazing to see those trees mature. We have two maples in our yard that my husband dug up in the woods and planted in 2002 or 2003. They were probably about 5 feet tall at the time. They now tower above the house and I know what you mean about the leaves they drop. I do like the shade and they provide and a bit of privacy as well. Also one of the had three robin nests in it this year.

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    1. Ha ha – I don’t usually come here during the day but first day of boss’ vacation and I walked five miles and came here to deal with SPAM … I had about 20 SPAMs this morning and did not deal with them. I am laughing as I probably started to write something and changed my mind and have no idea where the gobbledy-book came from and I answer in the notifications area so you cannot see below what you write – yikes, no wonder you asked me that and thank you for asking Ruth. Could you delete that to restore my credibility please? The maple tree’s size just amazes me and I would have yanked it for sure, as it was on City property … silly tree.

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      1. So glad you checked in and are ok thanks for letting me know. It seemed weird like you might have had a stroke or some type of emergency while writing. I didn’t know what I could do to help you if you were in crises but I did say a prayer for you. I’ll fix it.

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      2. Thank you Ruth for caring – being here by myself, I often think about down the line, later, what if something happened and hope I never come to that point. When I had my canary Buddy, whom I lost in December 2016, I carried a little metal vial on a lanyard (made for people to put aspirin in if they had a heart attack) and it had instructions to contact my neighbor who had a key and would go in and take care of him as I didn’t want him to be alone. My boss would only know I was gone if I did not check in on the weekend to look at the bank balance for him or remote into work on the next work day.

        I think I must have hit the wrong keys … it was a little bizarre looking and thanks for taking it off. I use a very old laptop in my room in the morning and it is 10 years old and in good shape, except it is missing two keys. I use it to store my pictures … remember my finger I smashed in the garage door? That was on June 7th and the nail is just at a point where the area where I smashed it was getting wobbly. Two weeks ago the whole top 1/3 of my nail just shredded and fell apart. It was not smooth anymore, like it had a bubble underneath it.
        So, I am trying to favor that finger and hold my finger in the air while typing to not hit my fingertip as there is no nail there anymore and it is sensitive. Thank you again and thank you for saying a prayer too. I appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re welcome, Linda. I would like to think that anyone would at least care enough to inquire if your were ok. Maybe my mom instincts took over.
        It was just weird when I saw that because your writing is always so good.
        I am happy that it was just some kind of computer error/glitch/or hitting the wrong keys and that you checked in and found my message early so I didn’t have to worry all day.
        I hope you have a great day – they weather is looking promising. A nice day for a walk.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you again Ruth – it is good to know someone cares. I am going to get dressed and get out in a few minutes … yesterday morning it was 22 degrees, but it felt tropical after the past two or three days. We are having an excellent run of good weather and I’m happy for that – it makes it so nice for people who are traveling too. This afternoon I want to go through some pictures I took a few weeks ago and make a nature-type post to publish tomorrow. I took a lot of pictures that day … I went to three parks, but took pics at Lake Erie Metropark and at Elizabeth Park. I looked through those pictures the night I took them, but had other posts I wanted to do ahead of this one. Have a good day Ruth.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. It was great to see the transformation of the garden. The photo of the pond with the barn looks very picturesque.
    Your prayer garden explanation makes complete sense.
    Quite interesting regarding your ancestor. You never know…

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    1. You’re welcome and thank you for being patient. I know this was a long time coming. It was very interesting learning about my family’s history but those words seemed to jump off the page when I read them. It really does make me wonder

      Liked by 1 person

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