Do you garden? I started a flower garden.

garden

Do you garden–flowers, plants, or produce? My grandmother Moore always had a “green thumb” and could grow anything. This year I’ve started my own little garden here at our new home!

I’ve never had very good “luck” with flowers and plants, so this is an exercise of faith. I’m quickly finding out that gardening is hard, hot work! It’s been in the 90’s here in Missouri where I live, and I’ve just been dripping and so sore afterward…feeling the work in every muscle that I haven’t been using! Below are pics of my arm and leg, after I had washed them off some!

my arm
my arm
my leg
my leg

First I got a vision for what I wanted in my mind. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, KJV, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” I knew that I wanted big yellow rose bushes in the area by the patio and brightly colored annuals, with at least one butterfly bush to draw butterflies, in the area by our garage.

Then for a couple of days, I took off in the car, hitting several nurseries and garden places like Suburban Lawn & Garden in Martin City, MO and Lowe’s in Belton, MO, buying supplies: green bamboo garden gloves, a cheery, bright yellow watering can for my flowers (love it!), rose food, mulch, flowers, and stones for a border. Ray and I already had a shovel, big and little rakes, and a hoe. 

Rose food, green bamboo garden gloves, and friendly, bright yellow watering can
Rose food, green bamboo garden gloves, and friendly, bright yellow watering can

Just for fun, I tried on a purple hat at Suburban Lawn & Garden and posted the pic on Facebook, “Do I look like a gardener, lol?” I actually got several compliments from it. I didn’t buy it, but maybe I should have!

me trying on purple gardening hat, just for fun
me trying on purple gardening hat, just for fun

Prepare first

Before buying the supplies, though, I started preparing my flower gardens with the area by the patio, which had lots of weeds. One of my friends on Facebook told me these particular weeds are called “Creeping Charlie” which is everywhere, but can be used for teas and medicines. She said it could be easily pulled or mowed.

I used a hoe and a rake to clear this specific area of grass and stones, which took a long time. But I found the Creeping Charlie weeds to be easier to pull with my hands than with a tool.

“I do some of my best thinking while pulling weeds.” ~ Martha Smith

Creeping Charlie weed by patio area
Creeping Charlie weed by patio area

My Facebook friend Rose, who has rose and flower gardens and works every day in her yard, advised me to lay down cardboard boxes flat on top of the dirt because it’s biodegradable and seems to work better than the landscape fabrics. I cut out round holes for the place where I’d plant the three rose bushes. This is more work than it seems, or maybe I needed sharper scissors!

cardboard
cardboard

Rose said then cover it with bark mulch as it helps to retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, keeps the soil cool, and makes the garden bed look more attractive. I googled online first, and then went shopping with our daughter Leah at Lowe’s for the mulch.

Our beautiful youngest daughter Leah
Our beautiful youngest daughter Leah

Leah is an amazing, self-taught artist and I sought her opinion on the mulch color before buying it. She and I agreed that red would probably look best. I didn’t really like the color of the bark mulch (a black-brown).

red mulch
red mulch

After shopping several places, I found my big yellow rose shrubs at Lowe’s. One of my favorite lines in the movie Sweet Dreams about country singer Patsy Cline, starring Jessica Lange, is when she said, “Please help me get my house with the yellow roses!”

I told our daughter Heather and my sister Maria, who had seen the movie with me the first time, “I finally did it! I got my house with the yellow roses!” I think they look so pretty and love them! Now if only I can keep them alive and thriving!

yellow roses
yellow roses

Initially I bought small, square ceramic stones for a border around the yellow roses, but I wasn’t satisfied with the way it looked. I saw some boulder rocks from Colorado at Suburban Lawn & Garden in Martin City, and bought them.

To my surprise they were only 19 cents a pound–much cheaper than the flowers! I LOVE the way it looks now, a much more natural look! I bought one of the boulders called “Royal Gorge” because I liked the name and the pretty silver in it. They had some huge ones, that I’d like to go back and buy for a separate “rock garden” one day.

Royal Gourge boulders from Colorado
Royal Gourge boulders from Colorado
boulder rocks around roses' garden
boulder rocks around roses’ garden

Next I worked on the area by our garage. This area gets only partial sun. I asked the opinion of my gardener friends on Facebook and the clerk who worked at the Mennonite shop in town about what flowers to get, since it doesn’t receive full sun.

A hosta plant had already been planted there before we moved here, which requires quite a bit of shade to do well, my friends told me, so I needed to take that into consideration.

hosta
hosta

I went to the Mennonite shop and bought most of my flowers there: waterfall color petunias (purple, white, pink, and “Dreams” red), a Butterfly Bush which draws butterflies, some pretty little purple flowers (not sure of the name, but they are perennials, the clerk said), and purple Veronica flowers.

Butterfly Bush
Butterfly Bush
Dreams Red petunias
Dreams Red petunias
purple petunias
purple petunias
little purple perennials
little purple perennials
my pretty flower garden
my pretty flower garden

I also bought a Pink Phlox shrub, from Suburban Lawn & Garden which is supposed to draw butterflies to your garden and adds a nice, vibrant splash of color, and the next day I bought a White Althea shrub to plant on the other side of the rose garden.

Pink Phlox that draws butterflies
Pink Phlox that draws butterflies
White Althea shrub
White Althea shrub
Althea flower
Althea flower

My husband Ray suggested that I buy a purple rose in the rose garden, when I asked him what he thought I plant last. Ray was raised in the Tyler, Texas area which is the rose capitol; about 20% of commercial rose bushes in the U.S. are grown in Tyler and Smith County. The Texas Rose festival draws more than 10,000 people every year. 

When I get an idea in my head, I can’t let it go. I went to four or five nurseries and places hunting down a purple rose shrub, and nobody had one! One clerk told me they are rare (at least in this area).

After wearing myself out in the sweltering 90+F degree heat, I texted Ray I couldn’t find one. He told me to come home and order it online, because I was “getting cranky.” I texted back, “Too late, I’m already cranky!”

He knew he was in trouble then. I told him do not even ask me what is for supper when I came home, as I was not cooking over a hot stove! (You can learn more about our stormy marriage in my book, Stained Glass & Marriage, available for sale at Amazon.)

I did find the perfect purple rose shrub online from Heirloom Roses called Midnight Blue, which one of the nursery owners told me about and can’t wait for it to arrive. The rose is a velvet purple rose, with a spice clove fragrance. I’ll then be finished with my gardens–unless I get more wild ideas!

Midnight Blue rose Image source: https://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/D/D/DD82C82F083C00B4375D2D0A0890CE7B.jpg
Midnight Blue rose
Image source: https://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/D/D/DD82C82F083C00B4375D2D0A0890CE7B.jpg

I can’t wait for it to arrive to plant. I’m praying and have been asking friends and family to pray over my gardens, as this is a first for me and all very new. Please pray my flowers will live and thrive!

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” ~ Luther Burbank

What do you garden? How has your gardening experiences been? Leave your comments below. I’ll be be blogging more about gardening in the weeks to come.

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Road trip to see a waterfall

Springfield waterfall
Springfield waterfall

Recently I went on a spontaneous overnight road-trip to see a waterfall while my husband Ray drove to Texas to visit his widowed mom Judy and to do chores around the house that she needed done. I LOVE waterfalls and it’s on my bucket list to visit some sites this summer, at least in Missouri and Kansas.

Speaker Rochelle Valasek
Speaker/author Rochelle Valasek
a.k.a. my friend “Shelley”

.For the last several years, I’ve been wanting so much to visit my friend Shelley (Rochelle Valasek), but it would have been much more expensive to ride the train from Lee’s Summit, MO, to Nashville, TN, where she lives and stay several days there at a hotel.

Ray was a little more open-minded to me traveling somewhere here in Missouri and staying overnight at a hotel...that is, after I begged, pleaded, and threatened his life (not really. I did have a few tears that he was going to get to go somewhere, and I’d be stuck at home, bored!)

 I took what I could get, because the man holds tightly to his wallet! To be fair, he’s often paid for me going places, but that doesn’t mean he exactly likes it!

Springfield is only a few hours from where I live, so the morning (the SECOND!) Ray left for Texas, I took off driving as fast as I could within the legal speed limits before he changed his mind, drinking my big water bottle and practically shouting, “Whoo hoo!” out the window all the way down the highway, K-Love radio blaring, and me singing (off-key). I do love to travel!

 God answered my prayers for clear, sunny weather, instead of the perpetual rain Missouri  had been having. (I intently dislike driving in rain, snow, or ice!)

Since I’d never driven there alone, I used GPS on my new iPhone 7 (my dinosaur iPhone 4 just DIED, so I had to get a new phone!) and had printed out directions, just in case I needed a back-up! (GPS isn’t always right.)

 “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

me in the car
me in the car, ready for the road!

My plan was to go to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden first  (by the Botanical Garden), and then maybe visit other waterfalls in Missouri (which didn’t happen, as I explain later).

yellow daylilies
yellow daylilies

When you arrive, you come to the Botanical Garden first. It has beautiful flowers, trees, and shrubs, including a grafted cutting from the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America, the Endicott Pear. Presumably brought from England, it was planted in Danvers, Massachusetts between 1632 and 1649.

I didn’t write down the names of the flowers, but maybe you can identify them. Pictures can’t do its beauty justice. I especially loved the purple lavender and the quaint sundial.

 A Latin phrase says of the sundial: “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ [ac linque severe]. (Take the gifts of this hour.)”

oldest pear tree
oldest pear tree

 

white flowers
white flowers–I believed these are called “snowdrops” flowers

 

lavender
lavender

 

sea holly
sea holly

 

rock garden
rock garden

 

sundial
sundial

Past the Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House (which I’ll cover in another post–something really cool happened there to me!) is a beautiful waterfall, which was the point of my trip. It is man-made, but still beautiful and peaceful.

Botanical Garden Waterfall
Botanical Garden waterfall

There are chairs and little tables here to relax. When I attempted to take a “selfie” picture by the waterfall, a young woman who was sitting in one of the chairs apparently mistakenly thought I was taking HER picture! She got up, leaving in a huff. Oh well, more peace and quiet for me! (I did feel a little bad!)

tables & chairs by waterfall
tables & chairs by waterfall

I stayed here awhile, just admiring it, listening to the sound of the waterfalls, and thanking God for being able to see it–an answered prayer.

me by the Botanical Garden waterfall
me by the Botanical Garden waterfall

 

falls
falls

Then I went on to see the Japanese Stroll Garden, which is in another section (about half a mile from the visitor’s center. It was hot, so I drove there!)

The Japanese Stroll Garden was so peaceful and pretty. It includes well-manicured landscaping, winding paths, three small lakes, koi (goldfish), a ceremonial teahouse, a moon bridge, and a meditation garden.

Japanese Stroll Garden Springfield, MO
Japanese Stroll Garden
Springfield, MO

The Botanical Garden is free, but the Japanese Stroll Garden costs $3. You are free to take pictures and videos to capture its beauty.

It was hot, so if you go now and during the summer to early fall, be sure to take or buy some water. They do offer some drinks and snacks when you pay to go into the Japanese Stroll Garden. I sat here a minute to rest and drink my water.

me with water
me with water

At the entrance are little signs, “Please stay on the path.” This is so that visitors won’t disturb the garden’s beauty, and there can also be ticks in the trees and bushes which might get on you. The signs made me think of how we as believers need to stay on God’s path and purpose for our lives.

 

Stay on God's path for your life
Stay on God’s path for your life!

 

meditation garden
meditation garden

 

Beautiful landscaping
beautiful landscaping

 

Japanese writing
Japanese writing

There were brooks in the Japanese garden, which had small, more natural waterfalls. I enjoyed looking and listening to these. It seemed extra peaceful in these spots. 

brook with natural waterfall
brook with natural waterfall

 

me with the pretty flowers
me with the pretty flowers

 

purple iris
purple iris

As I walked around the garden, looking at the trees and flowers and hearing birds, I thought, “It’d be wild if I saw a red male cardinal here.”

Beside the eagle and dove, it is my favorite bird and a special sign to me of God’s love and presence in my life. Then suddenly, I saw both a male and female cardinal. The male even seemed to follow me around! God is so amazing and good!

To me, it was like a little kiss from God, letting me know He was right there with me in the garden, even as He was with Adam and Eve at the beginning of Creation.

The tea house and its interior were interesting in their design and plainness (but pretty). The tea house is a space used for tea ceremony gatherings, one of Japan’s 3 classical arts of refinement, along with flower arrangements and incense appreciation

The tea house was originally designed by Zen monks seeking simplicity and tranquility, and a place for poetically-inspired aesthetic pursuits, when the country was in chaos with wars and uprisings. (source: Wikipedia)

Right beside the tea house was a green-brown pond, where I saw a male and female mallard duck, another one of my fave birds. I stood there taking pictures of them and watching them.

mallard ducks
mallard ducks

 

tea house
tea house

 

tea house interior
tea house interior

Although the waterfalls in the Japanese Stroll Garden were man-made, they were so beautiful. I didn’t know any waterfalls would be in here, so it was a double blessing from God!

Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall
Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall

As I was leaving, I noticed a Japanese family entering the garden. It amused me a little, so I quickly snapped a picture of them. The little Japanese girl was so cute!

Japanese kids
Japanese kids

After I left the garden, I was famished and found a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch, for my chips and salsa and chicken taco (being a salsa magnet and God was smiling on me!). After I ate, I asked the owner of the restaurant if there were any hotels nearby. She said yes, right around the corner. To my delight, the Day’s Inn was clean, safe, and an even lower price than I had figured for a hotel room! More favor from God!

I went back to the hotel room to cool off, journal and relax for awhile. I need to find this Jarritos orange soda Mexican restaurants sell; it is delicious. 

chips & salsa after the garden!
chips & salsa after the garden!

Then I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop across the street from the hotel, where I saw more (man-made) waterfalls, live alligators that I thought were fake at first, one of the biggest polar bears ever shot, and I bought some chocolate fudge. (Yes, I ate the whole thing–eventually!)

alligators
alligators

 

polar bear
polar bear

 

chocolate fudge---yum!
chocolate fudge—yum!

As I was leaving the Bass Pro shop, there was a sudden, bad thunderstorm, so I went through the Chic Fil A drive-through and ate supper [safely] in my hotel room. This storm in Springfield and the area I was planning to head for the next waterfall was the reason I had to cut my trip unexpectedly short (as well as a very sore throat! Boo hiss!)

Chic Fil A
Chic Fil A

I will blog more this week about this trip and the next waterfall I saw locally, so stay tuned!

I had so much fun on this trip seeing the waterfalls and the beautiful gardens, and can’t wait to see more waterfalls this summer.

What is on your bucket list to do this summer? Leave your comments below!

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The sign of a mourning dove

mourning dove
mourning dove http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/mourning-dove

This morning I overslept but maybe my body just needed more sleep. As I sat in my office ready for the day, I heard the sound of a mourning dove outside. I love doves. They are so peaceful.

Ray had to work some extra shifts this past week, and we weren’t able to have Passover on Friday night, so we had it Sunday night. Since I met Ray, we have celebrated a Messianic Passover as an annual tradition.

Ray was doing this when I first met him. I’d never heard of a Messianic Passover before. He’d read in the Bible where God commanded His people to celebrate it each year (Exodus 12:14-30), and felt convicted that he should do it, too, but from the perspective of the Messiah Jesus already having come.

He studied more about it and began celebrating it each year. We’ve always celebrated it together, with our children. This was the first year that we didn’t; Heather and Eden are grown, and Leah was with her friends Sunday night.

Unknown to the Jews, there is symbolism of Jesus all throughout the Passover! I’m thankful God has passed over my sins because of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross!

During the Passover, there is a part where someone in the family is supposed to open the front door to “let Elijah the prophet in.” When I did this Sunday night, I opened our front door and saw a dove outside. It made a sound, and then flew up into the sky. I thought it was so cool, and Ray did, too. We took it as a prophetic sign of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10)

When I heard the dove this morning, I remembered the dove at Passover. I felt it was just God confirming as a sign that He is with me and my family, He loves us, and He is watching over us. This is reassuring since there’s weather reports of severe thunderstorms, hail, and even a tornado in the midwest tonight! 

Do you believe that God speaks through signs, nature, and other unusual ways? Leave your comments below. 

 

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