Category Archives: Flowers

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.

 

IMG_5660 (2)
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.

IMG_4222
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.

100_0389

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.

100_0621

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.

100_0620

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.

102_0929

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.

102_0927

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.

IMG_4411

 

IMG_5539

 

IMG_5537

 

IMG_5543

IMG_5608 (2)

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.

 

 

 

 

Mornings At The Farm

September 5, 2019

My plan this morning was to clean garlic. There were about 150 bulbs that I wanted to get done. I figured it would take me about an hour to complete this task so I also took some time to enjoy the day. Would you like to join me?

IMG_5708

As I walked past the garden I was greeted by this sunflower. I wonder, is it possible to look at a sunflower and not smile? As you can tell I was not the only one happy to see this flower. The honey bees were all over it.

IMG_5611

This was the view from were I was working. Nothing but blue sky and sunshine this morning.

IMG_5717

While walking through the prayer garden I discovered that the honey bees were also foraging the anise hyssop. This is a recent addition to the prayer garden and was largely added for the benefit of the bees.  I only see one bee in this picture, but I assure you there were more that the camera did not capture.

IMG_5711

My husband discovered that bees like this plant while working at his landscaping job. They had to go to a greenhouse to purchase some anise hyssop plants for a job they were doing, and he said the bees were all over the plants. A couple weeks later he took me to that greenhouse to purchase some for our farm.

Another visitor to the prayer garden this morning was this Hummingbird, searching for nectar in the hanging plants.

IMG_5713 (2)

It is a bit camouflaged by the green plants in the background. Do you see it just left of center?

IMG_5714 (2)

It is now to the right of this basket.

In recent weeks we have seen the return of an annual visitor. For at least the past 5 years we have seen this bird (or one like it) in and around our pond in the late summer. I am assuming it is the same bird and although we usually see just one at a time on rare occasions we will see two.

Since it was not a bird I was familiar with and was unable to positively identify it through our bird books or internet searches, in 2016 I turned to my blog readers for help through this post. While the answer did not come through the post comments, I learned  that our bird was a Green Herron.

IMG_5719 (2)

He or she is a quiet bird and blends well into the grasses that surround the pond.

IMG_5722 (2)

Can you believe this is the same bird? It’s appearance certainly changes as it makes a quick getaway.

Before noon I return to the house with that batch of garlic cleaned.

September 6, 2019

Though there was rain in the forecast I was hopeful it would hold off and I could finish up cleaning the last batch (about 100 bulbs) of garlic.

The sky was gray and the sun was hidden. Before getting started I took in some of the surroundings.

IMG_5732

Maple leaves are indicating that Fall is not far off.

IMG_5736

Squirrels have been collecting nuts.

IMG_5729

This sunflower with a fancy hairdo.

IMG_5735

The Norway Spruce that is loaded with pinecones.

IMG_5738

With the threat of rain it was not a good morning for cleaning garlic so my plan B was to work in the prayer garden.

IMG_5746

As I brought out my garden tools the rain began.

Perhaps plan C, canning tomatoes, is a better job for today.

Thanks for joining me. Are you seeing signs of Fall in your area?

 

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Giving the flower bed by our deck a makeover this spring is the perfect example of how “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This flower bed was in desperate need of a makeover this year as it had become overrun with grass and various wild plants that I didn’t want there, so technically we can call them weeds. In addition some of the plants that I had planted there a few years back had grown too big for the limited space so it was time for them to go.

I had mentioned in a previous post that my husband was working a seasonal job at a greenhouse that is a large wholesale supplier of annual flowers. While working this job he saw value in many of the items that were ending up in the dumpster and headed for the landfill. He started bringing home some of the items that he thought we or others could use.

To makeover our flower bed we started by laying down a layer of thick black plastic as a weed barrier. The large plastic sheets we used had originally held 2000 lb. bales of potting soil. Once the potting soil is removed from the package the plastic is normally thrown away. Instead my husband brought them home and cut them into strips that we can use as weed barrier where needed.

After we put down the plastic we put a layer of wood mulch on top. The mulch was obtained from a local tree cutting company. In their yard they have piles of mulch that they give away.  My husband went there with several large lawn and leaf bags. He filled them with mulch and brought them home to use for this project.

I had decided that after we had the wood mulch down I would use flowers in pots to add color. We had many pots already stored in our shed and my husband had brought some home that were going to be thrown away. The weather was still too cool for most annual flowers to be comfortable and flourish, but the Pansies that my husband had brought home because they were unsellable would do just fine in the cool Spring temperatures. Though beautiful flowers these pansies were not sellable because the flats were not full, so unless someone came along to take them home they too would have ended up in the dumpster.

It was a few weeks later when my husband came home with the lovely pink Geranium hanging baskets. Though I think they are beautiful, they apparently did not meet the quality standards of the company he works for. While it seems a shame that they would have otherwise been discarded, I respect that this company has high standards and is only willing to sell top quality products. Out of the nine geraniums he brought home we gave two to our neighbors across the street who hung them one shepherds hooks in front of their home and two to our neighbors next door who did the same. We kept the remaining five and I found some brackets that we had stored in our shed and hung some from both the upper and lower railings of the deck. I love that this adds more dimension to this landscape. I also love how the neighbors displays of the same flowers seems to tie our community together.

Then one day my husband came home with three football shaped planters containing large red Petunias and blue Lobelia. The Petunias are so large that the Lobelia is barley visible. He said that they were sitting by the dumpster and he couldn’t stand to see them being thrown away. He gave them a good watering before setting them strategically in this flower bed.

IMG_5107

I have never used flower pots in my flower beds before, but potted plants are a great, low maintenance way to beautify an area. I am so happy with the way this turned out.

IMG_5112

The other piece that I truly love is this old oak block that has been sitting in our back yard for several years. I think it’s original purpose was to be used as a log splitting block when my husband was splitting fire wood with a maul. We have since started using our hydraulic log splitter so the oak block has sat in the back yard unused. It began growing shelf mushrooms and earlier this Spring I noticed it’s uniqueness. I thought it was lovely and I needed to incorporate it in our landscape somewhere. I was a bit hesitant to ask my husband because it is a very heavy piece of wood, but as soon as I mentioned it he helped me load it into a wheelbarrow then he placed it in it’s new home, asking me exactly where I wanted it and how I wanted it oriented.♥  It worked perfectly into this design.

While this had the potential to be quite costly project the total cost for materials for this project was $0. We also feel good that we saved many of these items from ending up in the landfill.

Have you ever found treasure in someone else’s trash?

 

First Flowers

IMG_4894

 

IMG_4897

 

IMG_4899

These daffodils that began opening yesterday, and I photographed today, were not the first flowers to blossom at our farm.

Earlier this week I spotted these coltsfoot blossoms.

IMG_4886

Although coltsfoot is usually thought of as a weed, this wild plant is edible and offers medicinal properties. Check out this link http://www.ediblewildfood.com/coltsfoot.aspx to learn more about it.

Lastly I will leave you with a photo of these beautiful pansies that my husband rescued for me 🙂 from work today.

IMG_4906

It would have been tragic to let these beauties die when they can instead make somebody smile.

Thanks for visiting and have a beautiful day.