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Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

602-334-8014; chemnitz@bigplanet.com





I am a little hesitant to send this around. Several people asked me to delete them when I send a gardening bulletin around. They belong to the small, select group that thinks I am looking for more things to do. I promised I would head those bulletins with the word gardening to make deletion easier. Outlook Express can be changed so that certain headings go directly into the delete folder. One anti-gardener recycles them to gardening friends.


I also get the most positive mail from gardening bulletins. I think more people should garden, teach their children about gardening, and pay attention to God's Creation in their own backyards. I have been reading a book about the Genesis Flood, not Rehwinkel's excellent book, but another fairly good work. Although the book tries terribly hard to prove the Bible correct, I still enjoy going over the scientific information and the quotations. I had forgotten, for instance, that Darwin himself said that the intricacies of the human eye could not be explained by evolution. The famous Harvard evolutionist Gould also stated that half-formed organs made no sense.


This particular work argued mostly from design. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature can see the design of God's Creation everywhere. But my preference is to ask about purpose. No scientist can answer the question of purpose, although many works often speak about purpose. The more I garden, the more I see the infinite complexities involved in purpose. For instance, plants and animals live together, without even considering micro-organisms, one serving the other. The bees pollinates the pumpkin and the pumpkin gives up food to the bee. No bee, no fruit.


The honeybee population is collapsing, due to a tiny mite attacking the hapless insect. Poor management of crops, misuse of insecticides, and destruction of wild areas have all hurt the population. And yet, God provides many different pollinators, from the bat to the hummingbird.


Therefore, the issue of purpose fascinates me, especially since I know what kind of soil I want. And yet I also know that the best soil is created by a host of God's creatures, all acting with great purpose, organized, dedicated, and efficient beyond human hope.


One person recently confessed, "I don't see any plan in your garden." I think I detected a wrinkled nose. The person (name withheld) probably saw man-made chaos instead of order in my garden.


The following is my dream garden, which may take a few years to build up, with God's help (99.9% of the work), some time and money.



A.    The front yard will be primarily a display of roses. Long-term residents warn me that roses can grow very large here, and I am planning some old, aromatic roses.

1.     I am now in my favorite phase of rose gardening, dreaming about what will go where. It costs no money and is no work.

2.     Hybrid tea roses, Opening Night and Crystalline, decorate the area to the right of the front door.  I plan on using more English roses (David Austen) than I would have in the past. I also want to use a ground cover rose near the bougainvillea on the east side, front yard. The bougainvillea will eventually provide a huge, showy bush, shade for that part of the house. I am getting terribly interested in old fashioned roses.

3.     Once the toxic oleander bushes are yanked from the yard, I will plant the area in front of the house (the north side) with shade loving plants. Many tender plants and bulbs can be grown in that area, such as elephant ears and calla lily. I have started periwinkle (vinca minor), a shade-loving ground cover, which will spread and displace ground cover weeds.

4.     After watching my neighbor labor over her granite gravel front lawn, all the rage here, I will stick with grass.


B.    The primary food garden will continue to be on the west side, in the back yard.

1.     Right now we are getting corn, beans, and perhaps hubbard squash from the garden. Corn takes up a lot of room, but it is worth the space and effort, if the crop is good. I ate my first ear tonight, a little premature.

2.     More salad greens will be planted in the future, but many will have to be winter garden efforts. Lettuce and spinach like less sunlight and heat.

3.     Because I helped someone else with a garden, I delayed my vine project on the west wall of the house and substituted with sunflowers. Now angry sunflowers have taken over the walk, demanding more water, sunlight, and food. But they do shade the house and strike visitors with awe. The vine project will probably suspend honeysuckle across the walk, allowing us to watch hummingbirds work the flowers, which will shade our bedroom wall. Cucumbers can grow in the shade. I can also grow bamboo in the sunflower patch. Bamboo needs to be kept in boundaries, since it is a grass. It can provide shade and support for vines at the same time. (A member thought of this. I would give him credit, but he laughs at my desert set-backs.)


C.    The yard facing the patio (south side) will feature bird, hummingbird, and butterfly plants.

1.     The bird feeder already brings in a constant parade of birds, competing to see how many can feed at once, like college students of yore stuffing a telephone booth.

2.     Butterfly bush plants (buddleia) will multiply, along with butterfly weed (asclepias), zinnias, salvia, bee balm (monarda), and borage (bee bread).

3.     The swimming pool fence will continue to host the Don Juan climbing rose, plus other fast growing vines. It is easy to add scarlet runner beans for the hummingbirds. I also want to try the passion vine.


D.    The wall. We have an enormous block wall encircling our corner lot. It gives the backyard a Folsom Prison look.

1.     Two trumpet vines (campsis) have been started to attract hummingbirds. Trumpet vine tends to be messy, suckers all over the place, and creates little suction pads, so it is a good choice for a block wall, a bad choice for the home.

2.     Sunflowers are cute when they bloom, but they get craggy when they go to seed. They will help line the wall area. Monarchs love the flowers. Birds ditto.

3.     Some climbers will be trellised on the wall. It's a good thing I can't order roses until December. (No, that's not when my credit cards are good again. It's just too hot and dry here to plant bare root roses.) I can hem and haw over various types and habits of climbers, from rampant growers to exotic blooms.

4.     I almost bought one house because the owner had asparagus prospering. I don't think I will ever order 50 plants at once again, but I would like to get some super male plants established. Store asparagus is too much like firewood for my taste.


E.     Aroma and night-blooming garden.

1.     The area around the pool is narrow and ideal for aromatic and night-blooming flowers.

2.     Night flowers tend to be pale or white but loaded with scent, to attract the creatures using their perfume to find sources of pollen.

3.     Lavender will grow around the pool. I lost two of the three plants I started. But I would like to have a good display of lavender.


Our new dog, Precious, a sheltie, does some of the gardening work herself. She destroyed every plant in her pen area (east side of the house, back yard). She decided to play tug-o-war with my new agapanthus (blue lily of the Nile, not a lily, not from Egypt). She also took my water lily out of the new pond I set up and chewed on it. Do you want your soaker hose to work faster? Have a puppy chew on it. She has attacked the wet mop, the dust mop, every empty flower pot, and now drags and pushes the garden go-cart around.


Luther began his sermons on John by saying he would rather enjoy the pleasures of an old man, watching God's Creation in the garden. It is fun to stand near the sunflowers and see bees hovering around the blooms, knowing that each little floweret will turn into a seed. Twice I saw a hummingbird feed at the cape honeysuckle bush, a desert hardy plant with orange trumpet flowers. I was in the pool, so I swam to the edge and watched from four feet away. This time I could see the bird's tiny feet hanging as he fed from each bloom. The wings were a blur, but the feet dangled motionless. Another time I saw him work the dozens of flowers of the borage (bee bread) plant.


I love to stand around and watch the bees work the sunflowers, or stare at the parade of birds feeding, or take note of the various plants as they thrive or suffer in the desert heat. Even more, I enjoy seeing others watch the same things.


Most people do not buy a huge package of dill and spread it around the yard. I did, and now people go into the pool and say, "Oh, I can smell the dill." When Perfume Delight blooms, its heavy aroma drifts across the water in the same way. Lavender will be great to watch and smell as it blooms along the edge. Tomatoes have an interesting aroma, and they grow within reach of the swimmers. On a burning day, imagine the pleasure of  ripe cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of fresh dill seed, while listening to the happy chorus of birds feeding. Overhead a hummingbird buzzes overhead with its distinctive sound. Each yard has the potential to reach that level of perfection.