The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Plants Are Closing All Over Springdale, Arkansas.
Time To Dream about Spring's New Creations

The color has left the Crepe Myrtle bush as the
flowers turn to seed to complete their work.
The Crepe Myrtle bush looked like pink fireworks all summer, but now in October, the flowers are completing their work, going to seed. Fall is arriving and all the plants are closing their reproductive cycle, going to seed, going to sleep.

Thousands of spherical seeds will remain on the bush most of the winter to feed birds, and Cardinals love them. That is why two Cardinals set up their love-nest, hidden away, in the plant. I discovered that by sitting on the porch motionless to watch the garden. I saw the male, and soon after the female, emerge from the Crepe Myrtle, so I walked over to find a nest - and there it was.

Cardinals were the first to visit the feeders after I moved the hanging one over to accommodate  our viewing. Mrs. Ichabod said, "There is the female Cardinal!" - pointing. Mrs. Cardinal saw the motion in the room and flitted away.

Those who made growing roses an onerous task, awash in toxins, missed this fact of flowers turning to seed and the plant becoming dormant. The old rose books had gardeners trimming canes lest "they be whipped around by the winter winds and damaged." But pruning rose canes just before winter is a fine way to promote new growth that will freeze in the predestined frosts. Instead, the flowers should be allowed to turn into rose hips (seed pods) for the winter, the rose dozing off for a few months of rest.

I have a little more time to harvest roses, and I already found a brilliant orange rose hip from a flower that was never removed by pruning.

I visited a spectacular corner garden recently set up by a neighbor a few blocks away. I looked at all the seeds developed by the flowers that grew there. The dried up seed-heads were gone, and new autumn plants were sitting there to lend color to the yard. If I had that kind of ambition, I would gather the dried stalks and their copious seeds and pile them in the back yard as a spare birdfeeder.

Four areas are enjoying a layer of cardboard over the soil, to let the soil creatures convert grass and weeds into compost. Those gardens have six months to get this work done. If the soil creatures grow cold and sluggish - and even freeze - they will have locked up nutrition and water for the spring growing season. Their descendants will take over and enjoy explosive growth in the warm, rain-soaked Spring.

Vines are shriveling and dropping seeds (Morning Glory, Honeysuckle) or building a tough root system to promote Hummingbird attracting flowers (Trumpet Vine), or merely trying to take over the world (English Ivy).

Our neighbor wants a bunch of Morning Glory vine to lay down on her fence, seeds for a new season. Buying the seeds is expensive, but if we pretend we do not care, the vines will spring up and display their flowers each morning. Mr. Gardener and I enjoy the vines on our shared fence, and they make a great backdrop for the roses in bloom.

Gardening can make the most impatient ready to wait for Creator's schedule. Vines quickly change their growth patterns from "Don't stop" to "Don't! Stop!!!!" Now my eye is on the English Ivy as it creeps into the rose garden. We actually cut all the vines off the porch floor and all the ambitious tendrils from the edge of the roses. They will return for more sun, more water, and more soil to conquer.

I hoped for instant Trumpet Vine, but I learned they take as long as Asparagus to produce well. My strongest vine of the three bloomed with a huge orange flower on the neighbor's side (Mrs. Wright's fence). All three should be productive and seductive for Hummingbirds next spring.

Entire denominations have been swindled by marketing people from Fuller Seminary, who took the view of the chemical gardeners. "Boost the soil with factory chemicals and you will get instant growth!" This siren song lured all the denominations - even the Church of Rome - to founder on the rocks of marketing gimmicks:

  1. Drop the liturgy.
  2. End the Creeds.
  3. Eliminate the hymns.
  4. Yank out the pipe organ.
  5. Turn sermons into life-coaching talks.
  6. Install a praise band.
  7. Harvest thousands of members and millions of dollars in the instantaneous aftermath.
Their newly minted experts, converted from the Gospel to selling to the masses, mocked everything good about the past and replaced those "hideous hidebound traditions" with their shabby snake-oil cures. They took their 10 horsepower rototillers through the seedbeds, doused them with herbicides and insecticides, and wondered why their glorious new buildings emptied out faster than a circus tent on fire.

In a congregation, the pastor and members might see unquestionable results after 20 years, or maybe not until a new generation or two. I have lost track of the years. Now people are writing me about services online and (ELDONA and LCMS) and asking about good Lutheran books (adult children of Boomers). The Baby Boomers were either passive about Church Growth or actively supported it. Decades ago, I only found support in people twice my age - now in men half or 1/3 my age.

I remember one member of St. Paul, German Village (now WELS) suggesting she would give them $100,000 to avoid Church Growth altogether. Since then, the congregation has turned into a prune parish after being a plum parish for many years.

Creation shows us that vast forces work slowly to accomplish God's will, even in reclaiming ground laid waste by foolish, faddish methods. Our yard used to be a grape vineyard, and now illustrates the Parable of the True Vine. For a long time the renters let the field weeds grow as they neglected the yard. Mr. Gardener got a place developed for flowers and vegetables for one resident, and the children tore it up immediately. 


The longer one gardens, the more he can see that understanding Creation is far more important than listening to the experts. I am awaiting the publication of Teaming with Fungi, a concept that verified what I suspected about organic gardening. 

God already designed a system to feed and protect every plant, because all plants have a fungus living within. Besides that, fungi send out their strands to gather nutrition and water demanded by the root hairs of plants and trees. To motivate the fungi, the root hairs offer carbon credits. These clever root hairs know what the plant needs and supply the carbon the fungi must have to grow. 

 Finally, a kind word about fungus.