The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Relaxing Work at the Jackson Rose Farm

The car.

The rose - developed
by Dr. Walter Lammerts, Creation scientist.


Predictions of rain on Friday and Saturday moved me to get some gardening done. Every day I look at two weather websites and check the barometer. The last storm spared us the brutal winds  that were only 20 miles north of us. That storm followed a rapid drop in the barometer, and it has stayed that low. A needle marks the last reading.

I planted the dappled willows across the backyard, which will form a rapidly growing screen to block the view on the West and perhaps decrease the excitement of the dogs who guard their fences. Two chihuahuas are sure I am ready to vault the fence and invade their territory.

I was digging through the cardboard and leaves from last autumn's effort. The soil was soft and well worked by the earthworms, which were abundant with every move of the shovel. When I received my double shipment from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm, I scattered  some along the perimeter of the yard and the house.

I packed some seeds in my work-sweats and added some more Bee Balm to the yard. I planted more milkweed for the Monarch butterflies and Scarlet Runner beans for the hummingbirds. Some fully mature beans were still in their pods on the fence, so I crumpled them into the soil as well. Some beans left? I dug those in, around the tall elderberry plants, which are starting to bloom.

God's overwhelming abundance is everywhere in His Creation. The gardeners and farmers think of the tons of fertilizer that come down with each rainfall. I also see it in the vitality of the plants first placed last year. Blackberries planted on one side of the house have moved around to two other sides of the house, rounding the corners and taking up their new positions.

God created each form of life as an opportunist. Most of the world's population lives within 100 miles of the coasts, because a vast food supply is available, ready to be fished. Each plant has a soil, weather, and sunlight preference, so it will take over the time and place allotted for its growth.

Pokeweed's blossoms foreshadow
the form of their red berries.

Weeds fascinate me because they grow unbidden and often have hidden value. They either arrive on the wind or secondarily through the birds of the air. Pokeweed beries (toxic to us) are loved by dozens of birds, so they are planted everywhere and grow up to 8 feet tall, even in the shade. Why should I fill the bird-feeders and cut down the pokeweed in the wild garden?

One gardening article said, "If you want plants favored by birds, just build a perch across one part of your wild garden. The birds will plant their favorite foods while resting." One suggestion was stretching a wire across the area. I planted a tree stump with many branches coming from it,, between two Butterfly bushes in the backyard fence area. The perches allow places for various birds to rest and preen, or watch for prey in the target-rich environment of thick autumn leaves, cardboard, and tall grass.

One indignant reader asked why I would plant roses around a maple tree - too much shade, too many roots. To top it off, he did not want to deal with thick, heavy clay soil. I planted 20 roses around the maple tree for several reasons:

  1. My wife suggested it, and her gardening ideas are great, even when causing backbreaking labor.
  2. The area was once a hideous mass of weeds, suckers, and forgotten trash.
  3. I had no better area for rose farm expansion.

The 20 roses last year were special offers via Gurney's and Weeks roses. They cost $5 each so the gamble was a small one. Placing them around the maple tree meant the entire area would be groomed all the time - mulched, weeded, and trimmed. Shade is not an issue, since the Army Ranger trimmed the tree's branches back, as high as he could safely go.

Clay soil is the best, but difficult to work without planning. Mr. Gardener rototills and confesses, "It only makes the soil worse." Indeed.

I put hundreds of gardeners to work instead. I sprinkled red wiggler earthworms around the tree. We dumped 10 bags of mushroom compost around where the roses would go, then covered the mushroom compost with 10 bags of wood mulch.

As I feared, digging into maple roots close to the tree was tough. I bought tools to hack, pry, and cut the roots. I worked the first ten roses into this mixture last year. Our helper did the second ten this year, using twine and screw-hooks to measure the same distance from the tree.

All 20 roses had their start last year, so all 20 are now budding and blooming. Some of my first roses cut came from the maple tree rose garden. I took one gold rose called Strike It Rich, several yellow roses, and bi-colored orange roses to the chiro's office. For perfume I cut a Mr. Lincoln from the fence garden in the back. The office was all excited by the roses and the fragrance of Mr. Lincoln, truly a giant rose that grows on gigantic canes.



Rose Intensive Care
One way to increase rose production is taking care of the plants that are slow or not growing after their initial week or two. My ambulance consists of a wheelbarrow, a plastic wastebasket full of rain water, and rose shears.

The rainwater is gathered in the back, so I bring it to the front on the wheelbarrow. The wastebasket limits sloshing and makes it easy to dip a  gallon at a time, using a former ice tea maker. The shears are used to remove dead wood from new and old bushes. Cutting roses makes them grow, so this always spurs growth.

Dead wood will never revive and let growth happen at the end of the branch, so snipping it away has a triple benefit:

  • All pruning will enhance rose growth.
  • The dead wood was not going to become alive again.
  • Letting dead wood remain on a rose will sap its energy. See John 15:1-8.


Pouring water all over the rose canes gives the entire plant water and fertilizer at once. The canes need the water. The roots grow more with the water. Feeding the plant natural, mild, non-toxic nutrition will benefit the the roots, canes, and the soil creatures at the same time.

Thunder rolled and the rain began to fall
as soon as I was finished posting this.