Weeds, wild cucumbers, and my (failed) attempt at a “natural flower garden”…


I love all things green! Wildflowers and ivy and frogs and lush grass – they all bring me a smile and make my heart sing a little. That being said, I do not have the proverbial “green thumb”. In fact, my boys used to call me the “plant killer”. I love them, but just have difficulty keeping them around.

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands and can spend more time studying their care and needs, I’ve been trying my hand at gardening. I have two small flower gardens in the front of the house and a raised bed vegetable garden in back… but there’s this one lovely spot near a tree in the back that I knew would be just perfect for that “natural” look. So, I cleared the spot and planted a various array of flowers – some lilies of different sizes and colors, some butterfly flowers, and a few clumps of variegated monkey grass. I have thoroughly enjoyed the blooming lilies and purple flowers. 

The tree has some gorgeous deep-green ivy wrapped around it. I thought that I would transplant a little of the ivy and some variegated creeping euonymus at the opposite end of the tree to add some ground color, since the flowers were a little tall. It was looking soooo pretty. Each day something different would bloom, and the squirrels, birds and bees were noticing the difference. I wanted them to be able to enjoy the space with little disturbance, so I also put a couple of bird feeders and a little birdbath for them. I pretty much left the space alone – after all, it was a “natural” space, and I wanted the wildlife to have a place to enjoy and be safe.

Then I began noticing this little vine growing. I had seen them in the back and recognized them as wild cucumbers. Their leaves were pretty, and the little “curly tendrils” were so delicate. They added cover and green to the ground, so I reckoned that they were harmless. I left them for a bit. I also noticed that the birds (and squirrels in their attempts to rob the feeders) were leaving a lot of seeds on the ground. Oh well, what harm could a few seeds do? Something pretty might even sprout from them. You never know… at least that’s what I told myself.

Then the rains came. Rain in hot July - LOTS of rain! My neighbor said she’d never seen a wetter July in her life. I had to agree. It was wet and muggy. I tended to the flowers up front and the vegetables in the raised bed as best as I could. Between root rot and sunburnt leaves, I was kept pretty busy. I left the natural garden in the back to grow and entertain the wildlife. I could see from a distance that it looked green and lush.

The rains subsided (for a short spell), and I finally ventured out to check a little closer. The fallen birdseed had sprouted into a patch of thick long grass – pretty, but not exactly what I wanted growing in my flower garden. In addition, those “curly tendrils” and wild cucumber vines seemed to be everywhere. They were crawling up my lilies and pulling some of them down. They had to go! So, I put on my gloves and cleared them out, but I couldn’t pull up the grass, because it would disturb some of the nearby plants. I didn’t think it would harm them.

By now, I’m sure that many of you are shaking your heads and wondering at my absolute ignorance of all things agrarian. In my defense, I will remind you that I am a self-proclaimed nerd. I have spent a lifetime in cubicles and clicking away at keyboards. I am a total newbie at growing things – especially the right things 😊 Before I knew what had happened my beautiful flower garden had turned into a wild, green, gnarly mound of mess! My experiment at letting nature have her way and allowing natural beauty to reign supreme had failed miserably. I had to dig up the entire space, placing the flowers in temporary pots, and kill the weeds. I couldn’t do it by myself. Fortunately my husband was loving enough to see my dire need. Without being asked, he picked up a shovel and began to help me clear away the mess. Now I have resigned myself to treating the ground with pre-emergent (to keep the weeds from getting a start), laying landscaping fabric, replanting my flowers, and covering the spot with mulch. So much for “natural”, and so much for doing it all myself!

A successful garden requires work and often requires help. It takes preparing the soil, planting just the right plants, fertilizing, the right amount of sunlight and moisture, and a lot of daily weeding… reminds me of my Christian walk. True discipleship doesn’t just happen. It is not the result of attending church and occasionally being involved in church activities. It doesn’t just grow as the “natural” result of having Christian parents or being around godly people. A healthy Christian life takes work, and it cannot be done alone! Our hearts and minds must be prepared with prayer and time devoted to the scriptures. We need to spend faithful time at church, worshipping and listening to God’s word. We must regularly examine our lives and allow ourselves to be held accountable to other faithful disciples in order to root out bad habits and unhealthy thinking BEFORE they take hold in our lives. Without daily, faithful, purposeful effort and partnerships, our lives will become fruitless and overgrown. I need your help to keep my life’s garden beautiful and bountiful. I really mean it when I ask you to pray with me and for me, because I really need it… and my heart’s desire is to work with you to help your Christian walk to continue to grow and be fruitful too.

Ever thankful that God is gracious!

Pastor Charla


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