The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rose Consultations - Avoiding the Big Mistakes in Gardening.
In Short - Don't Do It!


Creation Gardening means avoiding the big mistakes. In roses, that means

  1. Failing to prune consistently, which is not much work.
  2. Imagining that fungicides will stop black spot.
  3. Ignoring the complex dependencies of Creation, which work on their own, given a chance.
  4. Trusting in man-made fertilizers when God does a much better job.

1. Don't Let Roses Get Ragged - They Love Prunes
One rose fancier laughed with me about KnockOut roses "pruning themselves." Their robust growth means they need steady pruning, which can be accomplished two ways. One is by cutting roses and snipping off spent roses during the enjoyable time. The other is by having a take-no-prisoners pruning session, which includes taking off all spent roses, all roses trying to go to seed and without petals, and all dead wood. The biggest pruning I do with KnockOuts is a 50% cut, which happens at the beginning and several times later. 

Pruning is the opposite of hurting the rose. Cutting energizes the plant. If 20 buds are forming, clipping 10 of them will make the remaining ones bloom faster and better - and more will form. A rose about to peak is best in color, so a bush full of peaking roses will be glowing red or pink. 



2. Don't Spray for Black Spot - It Is Part of Colored Roses
Black spot was introduced with the Persian Yellow rose, so we have to deal with it among most rose varieties - except KnockOuts. Black Spot is a fungus that lives in the soil and eats at the leaves. I normally cut the hybrid teas and clip off the leaves in the grass (not in the mulch). A healthy rose in my gardens will have Black Spot and still do well. If the rose is weak, the Black Spot seems to be killing it. The solution is to strengthen the rose, not douse the Black Spot with poison.

Man-made toxins kill the beneficial organisms so the intended good effect has long-term bad consequences.

But he lost the Best Dressed Rosarian award.


3. Don't Ignore the Complex Dependencies of Creation
God created soil as a living ocean of creatures dependent upon each other, plus some sand and clay and stuff like that - mostly rocks in some areas. The creatures we cannot see are the most important, because they are the foundation for the soil-plant-microbe relationships.

I encouraged one rose grower to do more to grow plants harboring beneficial insects. She had holes eaten into her roses. I have wasps or hornets in the front and back, and they have to be eating something. Research - "Wasps eat a wide range of invertebrates including spiders, caterpillars, ants, bees, and flies." I had a few holes eaten in the roses, perhaps by earwigs, but it is not a big problem. A concentration of roses should increase the pests, but they also increase the supply of food for the pest eaters. When I was pruning, a flower fly got in my way - he looked like a little bee. 

I let the white and Peace flowers take the pest attacks, which brings the beneficial insects (flower flies, ichneumon wasps, etc) to the roses. The good insects may attack the pests on their own or lay eggs on or near the pests. Thus the solution takes a little time, as it does with me. The second blooming had greatly reduced damage, and the rest of the summer the roses were damage free.

A ye who get out the insecticide and poison the ground with systemic poisons - are the spiders missing in thy garden? As I was looking at the roses in the front yard, I saw a silken thread above them, perhaps a traveling thread used to come down from the maple tree and feast among the rose pests. As the season develops I often cut flawless roses that enjoy a thick spider web around the stem, a wall built against illegal intruders without any cost to me.

God not only creates these magnificent examples of plant and animal life, but engineers them to perfection in their individual roles and manages their work. The parisitoid wasps see pests as "food for my children" and destroy the pests for us while guaranteeing a new generation of helpers. The spider sees wood mulch and says, "There I will stretch my net, because the food supply around and beneath wood mulch is endless." Birds think the same way, yet birds and spiders feast together. Each creature is fitted for the tools and skills it needs to prosper, which is engineering at its best, but it is also managed by unseen forces to carry out its tasks relentlessly and to move on when the work is done.



Side Bar
Did Jesus command His disciples to cast a vision for the future? Did the Holy Spirit descend upon them so that people saw images of soft-drinks and snacks, making the prospects hungry for the Christian Faith? St. Paul wrote, "Preach the Word at the right time and at the wrong time." (Jackson Relevant Relational Living Surfer-Dude Paraphrase) 2 Timothy 4:2

The Word created in the beginning, entirely through the Son, the Creating Word. Nothing was created apart from Him - John 1:3.

When so many turn away from divine solutions for man-made answers derived from business, we should shake our heads and direct the young seminary students to the garden, since their school's name  - seminary - really means seed-bed. Try working the garden with ordinary tools and labor, and plant the living seed that was created to grow and reproduce.

I still sow seed in the yard, those tiny seeds that easily fall into the rough surface of soil and mulch, germinating and growing to self-sow in the future. In the olden days, that was called broadcasting. Now we say that about digital media, where we can broadcast the Word via blogs, websites, and live-streaming video. The results are similar though global, since the Word can reach anywhere. We get responses from all over the 50 states and around the world. The Word never returns void, always accomplishes His purpose, and always prospers His purpose. 


4. Don't Trust in Man-Made Fertilizers When God Does a Much Better Job

Jeff Lowenfels, who wrote Teaming with Microbes, recently wrote a column where he dissed anyone who tossed around the soil just to place a few potted plants in the garden. Of course, there is no better way to disrupt good fungus, kill earthworms, and exposed weed seeds to sunlight for instant germination and growth.

Man-made fertilizers are detrimental to soil microbe growth. Their reputed power - compared to the gentleness of earthworm castings or animal manure - is an argument against factory fertilizer. The combination of fungus-bacterial-protozoa-nematode interactions keep the usable chemicals of decomposition in a convenient place for the fungus to funnel the food to the roots. Factory fertilizer is like that TV game where dollars descend or blow around in a cage. The contestant can keep what he catches, but most of it floats to the floor.

God's fertilizer adds up rather than passing into the water table. God's plan is to add the organic matter generated by plant and tree growth - leaves and other debris - to the soil, so the soil can hold more nutrition and support more life to grow plants that add more organic matter.

The self-serving and opportunistic maple tree would like to have the front yard for itself, shading out all rivals, using its greedy surface roots to absorb the rain and elbow out other roots. But that tree can live in peace with a rose garden if the lower branches are pruned to let in the sunlight.

God's fertilizer is hand-crafted (by His own Hand) from:
  • Fallen leaves, dying seeds, pollen, dead insects.
  • Mushroom compost and the excretions of billions of soil creature.
  • Mown grass left in place.
  • Rain fertilized by lightning.
  • Animals large and small that die in the soil - moles, voles, earthworms, and springtails, to name a few.
  • Bacteria and protozoa fighting a war over which will dominate.
  • Fungus.

I made way for the new roses for the altar flowers,
disposing of this Veterans Honor rose in the garden,
but the bloom still remained full and brilliant red for days.