The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Monday, May 23, 2016
I was pruning lots of roses today, since I wanted to be a good example for the rose growers I was chastening. Normally I use Fiskar rose sheers, which use a scissors action. But sometimes I miss an area and some roses reach the no-petals stage, when the rose-hip starts to form seeds.
I used a rosarian trick to remove extra buds quickly. I put the end of the cane between two fingers and my thumb - and dis-budded it. Horticultural experts would say I broke a hip instead, but I figured the bud pun was funnier: dis-bud's for you - when the sheers are locked in the garage.
We have not had that much rain today, but 10 days of rain are predicted, on and off.
Remembering Almost Eden's skepticism about rain today, but hoping it would, I went to the rain barrels to empty their bounty on the most needy or most favored plants. A receptionist was shocked to hear that rain was fertilizer, the best kind.
I said, "In July the lawn can be watered all month, without rain, and it will still be yellowed." As soon as the rain starts, the lawn greens up. That is from fixed nitrogen compounds formed by lightning. She thought of rainwater as simply being better water.
I took the old iced-tea maker body and dipped gallons of rainwater onto favorite roses along the fence that needed a boost. Barbra Streisand got several gallons, and so did a few others that looked weak. So much rainwater was available that I watered every single rosebush along the fence - and then the honeysuckle vine.
The Butterfly Bush near our window, White Profusion, has been given special treatment often, with dirty bird water from a large bath and rainwater from a nearby barrel - one out of four. That bush is now so large and strong that the birds were eating and then resting in it. Mrs. Ichabod was pleased with the screening effect, since it is already 8 feet tall.
The Honeysuckle Vine was doing well, but the nips of frost lately have slowed it down, so I watered that one from the barrel too.
Why Water When the Rain Is Coming?
"The rain is coming" - that precipitates hearty laughs from residents who have seen 100% rain predictions evaporate into one more period of warm soup weather.
One reason to water with stored rain is back-up. The stressed plants will be even more damaged by another day of no rain, and there is nothing better for them. So I bet the rose farm, or those priceless barrels of water, each one full of growth magic.
The rainwater gets all the above-ground and sub-surface action going while the sun is shining or filtered through clouds. The action of rainwater on plants is like turning an elaborate factory on, where every part of it starts to work at high speed to complete the manufacturing process. Thousands if not millions of workers are involved, and they all need moisture and nitrogen compounds to do their work. I have it on good authority that rain and snow always have an effect, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.
A dose of tap-water can keep plants alive, but the chlorine in tap-water will slow them down. Tap-water always lacks the nitrogen compounds.
The creatures of rot and recycling feed the plant gently while taking care of their own manifest destinies. Rainwater has multiple effects on hundreds of life forms, and the intricate liturgy of growth takes place as Paul wrote - "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." 1 Corinthians 3:6