Category Archives: Garden Life

Lessons From My Garden-The Other Side of Darkness


I’ve experienced it. You have too. 

Maybe you’re there right now, a time in life when everything safe, secure and comfortable has been uprooted. 

Turned upside down. 

Night may have descended in the middle of a bright sunny day with a phone call, a diagnosis, a betrayal, a loss, a failure. 

In an instant, you are overshadowed by gloom and despair and not one glimmer of light flickers to guide you to a solution. 

You feel trapped in a dark place with no way out. Abandoned. Alone. Afraid.

What are we to do in the darkness, through the long night of struggle and heartache?

I’ve noticed several amazing plants in my garden that illustrate the answer to this question in different ways:


The Cassia tree, abundant in clusters of symmetrical leaves, is covered with bright yellow flowers in Autumn. A small shrub-like tree, it grows twelve to fifteen feet tall. 

Sulpher butterflies, the large yellow-winged variety, are attracted to the Cassia and will rest on its branches even when it isn’t flowering.

An amazing characteristic of the Cassia is how it folds its leaves together at dusk, as if putting little hands together for bedtime prayers.

The Cassia “prays” all night and when the sun rises in the morning the leaves open to another day of butterfly welcoming.

A life without prayer is a life without light. What better time to pray than when we can’t see where we’re going?

The lyric to an old hymn put it this way:

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer.


The Four O’clock plant has small trumpet-like flowers that remain closed during the day. 

When evening comes they open, displaying a mass of color across the top of their waxy stems and releasing a mild, sweet fragrance into the night. 

As we sit on the patio in the evening the delightful scent is carried to us on the breeze. This flower puts on its greatest display in the darkness. 

The Four O’clock is not concerned about the setting sun. It was made to rejoice in the night.

Paul and Silas, in the darkness of a dreary prison cell (Acts 16), praised God in the middle of the night, the fragrance of their worship carried on the wind of the Holy Spirit to God’s throne.

Their praise brought the answer to their problem and set them free.


The Poinsettia plant is famous for its beautiful red Christmas blooms. 

The blooms are actually the plant’s green leaves which slowly transform into a brilliant red color as the daylight hours shorten and nights grow longer.

Poinsettias need the long dark nights of autumn and early winter, to convert leaves from green to red. The process takes about six to eight weeks but the plant can only produce the bright red color we all enjoy, in darkness.

The night seasons of life are mostly unwelcome, but they create something beneficial in us and for others, if we let them. 

James 1:3-4, shows us that these troubles test our faith and produce patience. Once patience has done its work, we will be complete and have everything we need for a God-filled life.

Some of the greatest transformative experiences occur in the night seasons of life. 

My plants never fuss in the darkness but yield to its process. When the sun rises in the morning, they are glorious to behold.

Keep praying and praising and be patient.

You’ll be surprised by the beauty found on the other side of darkness, when the light shines again.

Job 23: 8 Behold, I go forward, but he [God] is not there,and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But heknows the way that I take; when he hastried me, I will come out as gold.

Psalm 18: 6 But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.

Psalm 120:1 In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me.

Isaiah 50:10 Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.

Lessons From My Garden~Weeds & Bees

Observations made as I worked in my garden today:

Weeds don’t need any help to grow. 

They don’t need fussing over, fertilizing, pruning…most of the time they don’t even need water, but the plants providing the most beauty and benefit need diligent care and some Miracle Gro.

Lesson 1~God speaking: Check your heart often, Diane.  Weeds sprout up from nowhere and everywhere. Weeds of bitterness, resentment, anger, envy, gossip, lethargy, disillusionment…so many! 

They grow fast and are hard to pull out once firmly rooted. Get rid of them quick before they take over your universe!

Give attention to your heart’s essential growth. Fruits of love, joy, peace, kindness, lo-o-o-o-n-n-ng suffering, patience, goodness, self control…so many! 

They grow slowly but once rooted, are firmly planted. Keep them fed and watered until they take over your universe.

Me: “Yes Lord, You are my Miracle Gro and I submit to your loving cultivation.”


A bee buzzed in angry circles as I fertilized a plant where he was collecting nectar. 

I told him (Yes, I talk out loud to creatures and plants. So now you all KNOW I’m crazy), “Listen up Mr. Bee, I’m the one who put this flower here. If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be enjoying it, so don’t get mad at me. There’s plenty more around here, so move it!”

Lesson 2~God speaking: “Diane, everything you have comes from Me, so don’t get mad at Me when I’m trying to make improvements in your life. Some may come disguised in perplexity and inconvenience but don’t be like that bee.”

Me: “OK Lord, got it. But you’ll probably have to remind me again tomorrow. I might forget. “

God speaking: “Well, just come back out to your garden. You’ll remember.”

Didn’t know a garden can teach you things?

Go plant one and listen.

Dilly Beans

One of my favorite ways to preserve an abundance of green and/or yellow beans:

Wash and boil in water 6 pint jars (do a few extra in case they’re needed) with their lids to sterilize. Empty water out and set aside.

I save empty jars (from jam, pickles, peanut butter, etc) and reuse them. Sometimes the tops can be reused too if they aren’t damaged and have a rubber seal inside. If not you can buy the Ball brand canning jar tops at the store that fit pint jars with standard size openings.

Add to each jar:
1 clove of garlic
1/8 tsp pepper
1 TBSP dill weed or 3-4 sprigs of fresh dill
½ tsp whole mustard seed

Wash, drain and trim ends off 2 lbs. fresh green beans; leaving beans whole. Lay the jars on their sides and pack the beans upright and tightly, into them.

Then heat to boiling:
2½ c. water
2½ c. white vinegar
2-3 tbsp. salt
1- 2 tsp of sugar (I use a Truvia packet)

Pour this hot liquid into each jar leaving ¼ inch of space at the top. Place lids on tightly and put jars in a large and deep pot of hot water. Make sure the water covers the tops. Bring water to boil and process 10-15 minutes. Remove the pot from heat. When cool enough remove jars and let stand on a towel to cool completely.

When the jars are totally cool check the lids for a tight seal by pressing on their centers. If there is no movement when pressing they are sealed. Sometimes you will hear the lids pop when cooling. That’s a good sound and means the lid just sealed. If you have a jar that doesn’t seal it will need to be kept in the fridge and eaten sooner, otherwise store beans in a cool place away from direct heat.

They taste better when they’ve sat a few weeks and had time to absorb all the flavors. YUM!

Gardening Is Spiritual

My father’s annual summer garden and I sprouted simultaneously over the years of my childhood. One of my summer chores was pulling weeds in the rectangular garden that grew along the side of our garage in our northern backyard. My dad and I would often visit my great uncle, to help him with a variety of tasks, on his small farm that produced most of the food he consumed; vegetables and fruit, fresh beef, pork, poultry, eggs, milk and hand churned butter. As an adult I have planted a garden most every place we have lived, even if it was just a few containers on a balcony.  

When our boys were young I would frequently ask them to help me in the yard or garden. Like most kids, they would comply and complain. I remember a day when my youngest son was assisting me with some weed pulling and whining endlessly. Determined to teach the boy that hard work is an important part of life, I finally turned to him and asked, “David, where did God put Adam after he was created?”

This child, raised in church and Sunday school since birth, knew the answer. He looked up at me, a pulled weed dangling from his hand and replied, “The Garden of Eden.”

That’s right,” I said. “And what is the first work God gave Adam to do?”

My boy gazed off into the trees behind me his brain processing, thinking, remembering and finally answered, “Take care of the garden and the animals?”

I stood up, towering above him to emphasize my next statement. “So if the first thing God did was put man in a garden and tell him to take care of it, then what we are doing right now is very spiritual work. I don’t think Adam was complaining do you?”

His eyes locked on mine and had that look, the one that lets you know the kid knows more than you do and what you just said proves it. “No Mom, but there weren’t any weeds then, Adam had it easy.”

Ouch! OK, he got me there.

After a long discourse on how weeds came to be and how that was related to whining while helping your mother, I regained my rightful place as the wiser one. He didn’t complain as much after that and as the years flew away, he grew up to enjoy gardening too.

One more confirmation for this Mom and plant lover, that gardening is indeed very spiritual.