A Favorite Quote

"If you look the right way you can see that the whole world is a garden." from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Shepherd - Part II

Last time we talked about Psalm 23 and how the shepherd provides for the sheep.  I introduced you to my friend Louise and her sheep farm.  I just have to tell you another cute story from Louise that brings another scripture verse to life, this time from the New Testament.
      Louise had to continuously lead her sheep from one field to another so they could have clean fresh pasture land.  She told us, “Sheep need new pastures to keep down the bugs and illness that can plaque them if they stay in one spot with too many droppings. They need you to lead the way.  They won’t go through the gate to another pasture unless you take them there.”

          She also told us how her sheep would come to her when she called.  She learned from her sheep keeping days that sheep only heed the call of their shepherd and don’t answer when other people try to call them.  She tried a little experiment with her husband, Ernie.
          “One day as Ernie and I drove to the farm,” she explained, “I asked him to stop the car next to the fence rail, beyond the barn.  I asked him to call out to the sheep ‘Here girls!’ and to wait and see what happened.  He called out, but nothing happened.”  She was excited to show him this because she wanted to make a point and share with her dear husband how God had opened up the scripture to her.  “He wasn’t their shepherd, you see, and they never even looked at him.  Then I called ‘Here girls!’”, she told us, “and pretty soon we saw heads pop out of the barn and they came out and ran over to me.”

          How exciting to feel the scriptures come alive before our very eyes as the ladies in our Sunday School class listened to these stories of sheep and read John 10: 27-28
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
          In John 10:14 Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd.  He calls to us and bids us come.  For those who are part of His flock He not only gives us an abundance of what we need here on earth, but He gives to us the promise of eternal life.  By His loving grace we can respond to His call; we are fed and led to that perfect restored garden in the paradise of God.
          Good and gentle shepherd, help me to always follow where you lead.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Shepherd – Part I
          I’m sitting on my back porch listening to the locusts hum and the birds call.  My lawn is a lush green carpet after all that voluminous rain.  As I look at how the rain brought the grass back to life after the long drawn out heat wave and drought, I find my mind’s eye traveling to a beautiful little farm setting.  As I walk along the old dirt road, I can envision the gentle woolly sheep in the pasture that my friend Louise talked about in our ladies’ Sunday School class a few weeks ago.
Louise raised sheep for about 15 years and during that time the Lord taught her some lessons about His Word.  She so generously shared with us (in our Sunday School class) about her experiences with the sheep and the scripture verses she associated with taking care of them.
 She said “Sheep won’t lie down unless they are fed and cared for.  They have to be comfortable and content with their surroundings.  I thought it would be easy to care for sheep.  I thought they would eat the tall grass in the field and it would save me from mowing.  I thought they would drink from the little tumbling creek running alongside the field.  Boy, did I learn a lot.”
          I chuckle to myself as I think of Louise having to ride a big tractor to mow the field for her cute little flock that she thought would be so easy to manage.  She found out her lovely little farm animals would not eat the grass unless she mowed the field.  They just happen to like short grass and they weren’t content.
          Not only would they not eat the long growth in the field, but they would not drink from the beautiful little bubbling brook.  Come to find out that sheep like still water…not running water.  They are afraid of the running water.  She had to go out and find some of those old antique, claw foot bathtubs so she could put them in the barn in the shade and fill them with clean water for these wonderful woolly sheep to drink from.
          Louise was a good shepherdess to her sheep.  She took good care of them and gave them everything they needed.  She mowed the field so the grass was short and green; she installed special tubs for clean, still water; she kept the fences mended so the sheep couldn’t get out and nothing could get in to hurt the sheep.
          So I contemplate the 23rd Psalm and how Louise related her sheep stories to us that day.  I am so thankful that the Lord is my shepherd.  I am content because He has given me all the things I need in life.  He has led me along the path to righteousness and has given me an abundance of blessings.  When you read the 23rd Psalm may you remember these special stories about Louise and her sheep.  May they be a blessing to your heart and bring your thoughts to the Good Shepherd. 

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

N Y Botanical Gardens

The New York Botanical Gardens
In June my husband and I had the pleasure of going on a bus trip to see the New York Botanical Gardens.  Who would think that such a beautiful site bursting with nature lies right in the middle of the city!  It sure was hot that day.  But inside the conservatory were some beautiful plants.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Joseph's Coat

     Last Thursday was a gorgeous day. My husband and I traveled, with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, out to Lancaster County.  We stopped at a cute little farm that offers cart rides pulled by miniature horses.  Since horses are my favorite animal, I was excited to see my grandson enjoy this new experience.  I was all about taking photographs.  By the time we left, I was ready to purchase one of the horses and take it home with me in the mini van.  I just knew it would fit in my fenced in yard back home.  I could imagine petting it, grooming it, and adding home grown fertilizer to my garden.  Wouldn't it make a wonderful pet for my grandchildren? 
     Reluctantly, I gave up my happy thoughts of a soft muzzle waiting to caress me and came back down to reality.  My grandchildren like cats and dogs better than horses and I would have to enjoy this adorable little creature all by myself.  My father reminded me, "It's too small to ride.  What can you do with it?"  (Not that I could ride it anyway!  I think I'm a little past my prime when it comes to horseback riding!)

            Harnessed up for a cart ride.

     Ok.  Ok.  On to the next step in our day's adventure.

After lunch we went to Sight And Sound Theatre to see their production of Joseph.  Joseph is a man who lived thousands of years ago.  His story is told in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.  His father made him a cloak of many colors and his brothers were very jealous of him.  The things that happened to Joseph are a nightmare.  But the unusual dreams God gave him really did come true.  God used him to accomplish great things.
     The common name of the plant pictured below is "Joseph's Coat".  It reminds me of the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors he received from his father.  It grows as an annual in our area.  I found this specimen on a previous trip to Lancaster County and I believe this is the best one I've ever seen.  The Latin name is Amaranthus tricolor.  It is grown for the beautiful colors on the foliage.  You can purchase seed for this plant through a seed catalogue like Thompson's or Burpee's.  In our area be sure to start the seed indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost date.

Amaranthus tricolor
Joseph's Coat

This plant reminds me that God has a plan for those who know Him.  No matter how bad things seem to be, His hand is guiding the events going on behind the scenes and the outcome will be for His honor and glory.  These precious thoughts are very comforting in times of trouble.

If you have a chance to go see this play at Sight and Sound I highly recommend it.  It will only be running for a short time yet.  Their next production is Jonah and the Whale.  I bet that will be a Whale of a Tale!  For information on  visiting Sight and Sound go to http://www.sight-sound.com/. Remember to take your camera if you are a photography buff.  You can't take pictures during the production; however, right before the performance some of the actors come out dressed in costume and do a swirling dance scene just for this purpose, right in the middle of the lobby.  If I had known that ahead of time I would have been prepared.  That would make a great photograph!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Visiting Mt Cuba Center

Barley Mill Road in Greenville, De is the site of Mt. Cuba Center Inc., the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Lamont du Pont Copeland. This beautiful estate has become an educational opportunity of discovery. Over 1900 plant species, varieties, and cultivars on 600 acres of breathtaking gardens entice visitors into the world of conservation and native plants.

I traveled with the Pottstown Area Garden Club on a beautiful day last week to take a docent led tour of this inspiring Appalachian Piedmont regional garden. Down the “Woods Path” to the “West Slope” brought us upon a peaceful setting of ponds, water plants, and frogs. Each part of the garden was lovelier than the last. I hated to part from the idyllic setting next to the ponds. But back up the path we went past the meadow, the “Trillium Garden”, the “Lilac Allee”, and then onto the “South Terrace”.

Our docent was very knowledgeable about many of the native plants growing along the paths. We oohed and aahed at the lovely specimens and planned out in our minds where we might place such plants in our own gardens.

This garden is only open for group tours. You must call ahead and be part of a group of 10 or more to receive a guided tour. It seems to be located way out in the middle of nowhere and we were told that visitors to Mt. Cuba often get lost on their way in. The staff recommends that you follow the directions on their web site at www.mtcubacenter.org. You can visit their web site for more information about tours or call them at 302-239-4244.

I enjoyed taking photo after photo…more than I could share. But here are a few of some of the loveliest plants blooming that day.

Mountain Laurel getting ready to burst forth in beauty.
Each area of the garden can be a slighty different mini zone.  At a different spot this same plant is in full bloom.

This Maidenhair Fern looked beautiful in the woodland garden.

These Lady Slippers seemed to put on a sad face.

Looking through the branches a gorgeous dispaly of rhododendron.
Down by the edge of the pond Blue Flag were in bloom.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Pottstown Area Garden Club Flower Show

The Pottstown Area Garden Club 2011 Flower Show was a huge success. In spite of all the rain that continually cascaded over the plants all week, members of the club and residents of Frederick Mennonite Community still were able to harvest some beautiful blooms from their gardens.

The Pottstown Area Garden Club is celebrating its 75th year as a federated garden club. It is a member of District II/III of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and the Central Atlantic Region of National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Frederick Mennonite Community welcomed the club to hold their flower show at their beautiful facility. Many of the residents participated and had the joy of viewing the exhibits for two days. There were 6 design classes, 31 horticulture classes, 3 educational exhibits, 3 artistic craft classes, 2 commercial exhibits, 3 classes for the residents, and 9 youth classes.

Judges from other clubs in the federation came to the flower show to judge all the entries and make the awards. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mention designations were placed in each class. Some of the other awards and ribbons given were Arboreal Award, Collector’s Showcase Award, Award of Horticultural Excellence, Designer’s Choice Award, Tri-Color Award and Artistic Craft Award.

Club members did a tremendous job and I am so proud of them all. As I walked around taking pictures of the various displays I overheard so many positive comments by the residents. Their hearts were blessed by the efforts of the club to sponsor such a beautiful work of art and labor of love for them to enjoy; and for the public to have this learning experience of art and the garden.

My design in the Underwater category took 3rd place. I talked my grandson into participating in the youth artistic craft category and was so excited to find out he received 1st place in his age group. He loves doing crafts with his Mom Mom (me) but was very hesitant to try his hand at this craft.

I tried to get some fantastic photos but in the middle of taking pics my digital slr had major problems.  It needs to go in for repair work.  But I did manage to get a few...

My Grandson's decorated flower pot won 1st place in his age bracket.

This beautiful orchid, belonging to JoAann Waddell,  won a special award.
Gorgeous artistic craft in the class "Stepping Out"

Laura Huffman was awarded 1st place for her creative craft "Stepping Out".
Cheryl Avery had a lovely display in the "collections" category.

Chris Leskosky place 1st for her table design in the class "Golden Anniverary", functional table. I took lots more pictures but the camera wouldn't focus and the color wasn't way off.  What a dissapointment!  But I am happy to say to all who participated....Great job friends!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Upcoming Flower Show

     It is 6:45 am and it has been raining cats & dogs for at least the last hour.  I lay in bed listening to the rain and wondering how this will affect the upcoming flower show scheduled for today and tomorrow.  The Pottstown Area Garden Club is hosting a Standard Flower Show at the Frederick Mennonite Community this weekend.  There is no cost to come and enjoy the displays.  It is free and open to the public.  The hours are today, Fri, May 20 from 3:30 to 6pm and tomorrow, Sat, May 21 from 9am to 2pm.      When I submit horticulture in a flower show I usually harvest the blooms or cuttings the very day of the show.  That way the submission will be at its peak for the competition.  However, it has been raining all week and especially very heavy this morning.  I can't help but wonder if the rain has knocked all the blooms from the flowers and trees.  Is everything so water logged that it will be difficult to find anything for display?  Maybe some of our members went out and took their cutting late yesterday while there was a brief reprieve from the storms.
     I am axious to see what everyone comes up with.  We have to be there early to place our submissions and set up our designs.  I'll let you know what happens and hope to have some photos after the show has commenced.  Stay tuned for ..... the rest of the story.
     Some blooms in my yard yesterday...



                                                               Giant Allium

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring is Here!

Spring is Here!

It’s been a tough winter. Lots of snow storms. And then rain that seemed to come daily. I haven’t been under the weather, just busy with work and family. Some of my family members had health issues and so I got bogged down with life and writing came last. So I have some blogging to catch up on!

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at a meeting of the Huntingdon Valley Garden Club. It was great to be with you ladies. We talked about Biblical Gardens and we visited Trudy’s neighbor’s garden and his artist’s workshop. He does beautiful sculptures out of trees and the most unusual renderings using corks from wine bottles.

Afterwards, one of your kind ladies took me to visit the gardens at Bryn Athyn Cathedral. This was a new spot for me. I had never heard of it before. It just so happens that this Cathedral is a National Historic Landmark with the most beautiful Biblical Gardens enveloping it like a designer’s ball gown. Each section of the garden corresponds to a spiritual doctrine taught in their church.

What a delightful day we had. The sun was shining with no clouds in sight. The dogwoods were blooming and I knew without a doubt that Spring was finally here!