MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Several people wrote about the rose article, so I am adding a few more ideas about having a garden. One reader was encouraged to add roses to a yard being fixed up. I was glad to hear that. Another gardener wrote about favorite flowers, so this will include some other flowers, easy to grow and enjoy.
Every garden glorifies God, because we do so little and God does so much. One hymn says, “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.”
A garden should have plenty of water sources for birds, who will eat weed seeds and bugs by the million. Bird baths are fine. Moving water is better, even if it comes from a leaky bucket in a tree. I suggest looking for flat rocks with depressions, to be placed where water will fall from rain and sprinklers. Many sources of water will help birds drink and bathe. In addition, insects will gather for sips, too. When plenty of insects gather, the good insects and birds will prey upon the harmful bugs. Birds live where food and water are plentiful, so we want that place to be our yard.
Bird feeders and houses should also be placed around the yard. Birds love various levels of vegetation. Most live at one level and eat at another. So a good Creation yard has tall trees, bushes, and long grass or tall weeds. Many herbs will serve as tall weeds, such as comfrey. I would like my neighbors to have the tall trees. But I would like to have the piles of wood and brush (insect havens), bushes, and wild areas.
One good bee plant is borage, a fast flowering relative of comfrey. They even call it “bee bread.” Raise comfrey and borage in the same yard and show children how similar the flowers are. The same is true of woody nightshade, deadly nightshade (belladonna source, a bad weed), egg plant, tomato, and potatoes. All of the those plants have a similar nightshade flower.
A good selection of flowers and herbs will attract butterflies and bees. Some special hummingbird plants are: lobelia, scarlet runner beans, fuschia, impatiens, and trumpet vine. A hummingbird feeder will help, but the plants are better, since the birds need insects and not just sugar water. If a trumpet vine is well developed, like the one in beer baron’s garden in New Ulm, hummingbirds will hover all day. (I just planted my first one.)
If the yard is large enough, many plantings of sunflowers will be very enjoyable for everyone. Children love their size and impressive seed heads. Sunflowers are very attractive to monarch butterflies. Birds and squirrels love their seeds.
Parsley will attract the black swallowtail butterfly. If possible, cultivate milkweed in one area of the yard. That is the only place monarchs will lay eggs. It is fun to watch them grow and turn into a butterfly. Once you see that fat monster caterpillar turn into a graceful jade capsule with gold nails, you will forever be in awe of the Creator. (It is my opinion that God added the gold nails to say, “See what I can do. Now why do you doubt my power?”)
Please plant a butterfly bush in your yard. Butterflies go crazy over them. I saw one butterfly face into a headwind to land on one. The wind was stronger. The butterfly could smell that perfume. He kept going toward the bush and the wind kept blowing him back. Finally he was blown back and away onto the roof of a house. He did not give up. He wanted that aroma.
Butterfly weed is related to the milkweed. I have not grown it yet, but I plan on buying it.
I was often cursed with shady yards. No more! When that happened, I planted impatiens on the shady side. They stay in bloom all summer, attracting both the hummers and the hawk moth, who looks like the hummingbird.
Birds, bees, and butterflies will appreciate mud, standing water, loose materials for nests (straw, grass, leaves, plant material). Do not haul organic material from the yard. Use it by composting it or pile it up in the wild area. For instance, a stack of branches in tall grass will be a favorite perch for birds and a hotel for butterfly larva. A pile of dead weeds will improve the soil and feed an army of beneficial creatures.
Ivy, especially Boston ivy, is great for birds. One area in New Ulm was covered with a tent of ivy, near a shaded weedy area. It provided shelter and food. People with ivy covered homes will have a lot of birds. Ivy can also be used as a ground cover, including under a tree.
Few people think of running their ivy up a tree. That is also one way to support a trumpet vine. The trick in using the tree is to start the plant away from the trunk, where the roots can get a good start in deeper soil. Drop down a line to give the vine (even a climbing rose) some support before it reaches the tree. Some roses require a large tree for support. And—get this—gardeners are warned against man-made supports for these roses! A tree grown by God is better and more reliable than a support built by a carpenter.
I have not found out which hardy bulbs can be planted successfully in this desert valley. I am not silly enough (yet) to put them in the freezer to make them think they are in the Midwest. Tender bulbs should do well here, but so far I have blown my budget on roses.
For those who can, plant hardy bulbs each fall. Buy only from Dutch Gardens. I have not found a better source for bulbs, hardy and tender. If you plant fall bulbs, create a mass of color with large bulbs. I put 50 of my favorite Darwin tulips around my bird feeding stump in New Ulm. I formed circles of bulbs, including the stinky but beautiful crown imperial. They all bloomed the day we put our home up for sale. All the real estate agents saw the back yard with this riot of yellow and orange around the busy bird feeder. The house sold for cash the same day.
I am also a partisan for small bulbs. They are inexpensive but multiply over the years. Crocus and grape hyacinth are favorites. Some can be planted in the lawn. They grow and fade before the first lawn mowing.
Lilies are not bulbs, but they are often sold in bulb catalogs. Some love hybrid daylilies. I went on an oriental lily spree for several years. Lilies are weak the first year, but they repeat and grow stronger. They often tolerate more shade. Some oriental lilies are quite showy and all lilies are graceful. They are still a little unusual for most people, so they attract attention. I doubt whether any flower is easier to plant and grow.
When in doubt, plant sunflowers. Save the woody stalks in the ground for bird perches.
Or cut them for the compost. When the stem rots into the compost, it will create tunnels of air, good for the composting process.
Nasturtiums grow well from seed. The flowers can be eaten.
Poppies will seed themselves after they bloom. So will borage.
Morning glory seeds need to be soaked in water before planted. They are coated with a toxin so druggies don’t buy them and eat them. They are good for covering an ugly fence or a gun emplacement. The British used them to hide artillery in WWI. When they fired, the morning glories blew off.
Gourds do not make fabulous flowers, but the fruit is fun. Gourds like to vine all over the yard, great fun for kids. They will climb into a bush and hide their fruit. Some gourds make good birdhouses.