MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
Tuesday, December 26, 2000
Doubtless most readers think I killed off most of the roses in my yard, after a long, blistering summer. Consider this – five of six Simplicity pink roses died. Eight of nine Simplicity purple roses followed suit. However, Mr. Lincoln survived while sheltered under the rubber tree.
My biggest surprise came from hacking away at the bougainvillea behind the pool. I now think desert plants have two stages:
1) Constant watering because the fragile plant could die at any moment.
2) Unkillable and unstoppable growth.
The bougainvillea reached stage two after a summer of constant watering. I pruned it back to its basic stump because its thorny growth made a good edit of that section of garden impossible. Suddenly I found a large Pink Perfume bush in perfect health and loaded with eight buds and blooms. I cut them two days in a row for my mother’s group home. They love having roses delivered. An aunt in Canada said to my wife, “Your husband has roses? We have snow. Cut a rose for me.”
Another overwhelmed bush was a Harlequin, also in perfect health. It was swallowed up by zinnias, bougainvillea, and everything else. Once I cut back the extra growth, the rose bush was healthy and green. When it was in the full sun, the same rose did not do well.
One pink Simplicity rose had the advantage of regular watering plus all the backwater from flushing the sand filter of the pool. That is always great fun. I reverse the direction of the pump and algae-laden water gushes out in the old puppy pen. Precious loves a good mud bath, so she jumps into the water and snarls at the snaking, floppy water hose she almost destroyed as a puppy. The water builds up in one area, creating a muddy pool for her to fall into. The chlorine water fills the area and leaks into the place where the pink Simplicity grows in wild abandon. As they tried to teach me when I was a desert novice, “Flooding is better than watering.”
I learned that over-watering a rose is better than letting it die from lack of water. The pink Simplicity rose shows the signs of over-watering (yellow foliage), but it grew and bloomed anyway. I cut back the entire plant and put it in the trash. The effect was a perfect rose bush growing out of a trash barrel, in full bloom. Where were the art photographers trying to make a statement?
Now wait! Why would I cut back a blooming bush to its base? First of all, I saw plenty of bad foliage, so I wanted to get rid of it. Secondly, I wanted to promote healthy new growth and root growth. Contrary to our instincts, pruning makes a bush or vine healthier, stronger, and more eager to grow.
I transplanted a number of roses by digging them up and soaking them in water for hours, even days (due to lack of time). I have no qualms about cutting back the roots and the canes for the transplant. In two weeks the roots will begin growing again, establishing the plant. If I plant a bush with plenty of canes and leaves, I still cut it back soon after. In time an older rose will have large, strong canes.
Some roses will not make it, due to my neglect or other factors. Alas! Then I have to order more roses. I am definitely in an English phase of rose growing. Most people think of hybrid teas and the great classic Lutheran rose, Queen Elisabeth. However, a lot can be said for roses which are more bushy and grow perfumed roses in profusion. I grew Redoubt and enjoyed its delicate pink flowers. Madame I. Peres can grow eight feet tall but is more famous for its perfume. (Note to self – do not grow Peres for shade. You will get long, angry canes that snag everyone who passes by.)
If Don Juan does not get along with being transplanted, I have other ideas for the pool fence. To root out a bunch of grass, I had to take out the moonflower vines. Once again they were in stage two. The recent frosts nipped the buds, but the vines were well wrapped around the fence. If I could get a lot of them growing at once, it would be quite a display in full bloom.
Evolution and Creation
All my planting schemes depend upon the growing habit if the plant. Every rose has its own habit. Tropicana will be petite at first, but it can become a large bush. Redoubt is bushy but Peres has great canes that reach out like the fiery debris in an explosion.
An evolutionist looks at a garden and says, “Someone developed this rose and turned this seed into a hybrid.” I think to myself, “Who placed all the information in the plant at the beginning?” Every rose grower must cross-pollinate with the hope and dream that the DNA will produce a splendid new variety. He will create 1500 new roses to get one on the market. But God will give him the genetic information to adjust.
When a mother rabbit freezes in a fierce posture from a loud noise and her bunny children run behind her in a second, evolutions say, “This is instinct!” Somehow the rabbits discovered that this emergency behavior and it preserved their race. Or perhaps God created them this way.
Or look at dog breeding. The sheltie is a recent breed with notable characteristics. For instance, Precious loves to play in water but hates to go into the pool. (She needs two swimming noodles and even then can rake me with her frantic clawing.) Shelties protect doorways and gates. They love to herd small children. Precious adopts all children into her flock and watches them. She even crossed the street to meet a little girl and headed inside the house. I asked the started owners, “What’s for lunch?” A sheltie can cut and run with the fastest and the toughest breeds. Precious makes a fool out of her boyfriend, Charlie the beagle. Poor Charlie is not a runner and cannot make the sudden turns of a sheltie.
There is an easy explanation for a sheltie’s characteristics. “They are bred that way.”
Let’s say someone looks over all my bookshelves. “How did you get all the gardening books that I saw in the sewing room?” GJ – “I put them in there. I put them in order and I removed non-gardening books.” The visitor says, “But how did they get into the house in the first place?” GJ – “They were in another room but I moved them here on purpose. It is an act of human, intelligent design.” The visitor gets angry and shakes me by my shoulders, “But where did the gardening books come from?”
Genetic code must come from God. The Creator has endowed humans, plants, and animals with a vast database of characteristics. For instance, bookish people tend to meet in college and produce bookish children. Bookish children may forego outdoor play because of allergies. By reading they become superior students. “You should go to college, young man!” So these bookish young adults go to college, meet, marry, and have intelligent but allergic children. Not all allergic children are bred at college, but the gene is concentrated through the higher education system.
The amount of genetic code in a human is greater than all the books in the Yale University library. Therefore it is no wonder than so many different types of people, so many talents can come from a group of people.
Another great puzzle for evolution is race. How can someone account for the very distinctive races of the world?
If you are interested in the deceptions of modern science about evolution, buy the latest issue of “The American Spectator” magazine, which you can find in a bookstore. Several articles are outstanding.
The Genetic Code in the Desert
For two years I tried to grow a Minnesota garden in the desert. Slowly I began to realize that the neglected cacti were flourishing while the pampered roses were biting the dust. My concept of watering was far too feeble for the plants I selected and I underestimated the power of the desert sun in the summer. (We warn visitors who swim with us in the summer. Day One is “I can take it!” Day Two is “Do you have a t-shirt I can wear in the pool? My shoulders are roasted red.”)
My recent plant purchases are all desert varieties. The mesquite, saguaro, and paloverde will survive with almost no water or care. Nevertheless, each tree gets its own bubbler. Then they can be watered easily once a month. If a cactus is watered too much, it dies. If it gets a generous amount of water, the roots fail to stretch through the soil.
An Arizona native asked me about how little I watered in the Midwest. Whatever we have, we take for granted. I never realized that soil could be completely devoid of water. My first response to tree watering in Phoenix was this, “No one waters trees.”
We value what we do not have. Compared to any other city, Phoenix has the highest ownership of boats per capita. How can that be? Since we are surrounded by desert, Phoenix residents cannot wait to run off with their boats and stick them in the nearest lake. Tempe (Arizona State and the airport are in Tempe) even flooded a vast area to create its own lake.
I am plotting to building another fountain, a birdbath precisely. Birds love food but they love moving water even more. My unfeeling wife says, “But we have a waterfall.” However, she does not relish having birds bath in the waterfall feeding the pool. I would like to sit on the patio, turn on a small waterfall/birdbath, and watch the birds cavort in the water.
I keep trying to grow flowers and plants, to see which varieties enjoy my reckless style of gardening. I dump out whole packages of seed on the soil, never worrying about the consequences. I follow General George Patton’s advice, “Never take counsel of your fears.” Perhaps that is why my garden often looks like a battlefield.
Basil is a companion plant for tomatoes and a natural seasoning for tomato dishes. I got basil growing by throwing it on top of the ground before the rains. I also found some perfect radishes growing from the same sowing technique. If there is a lot of mulch, throwing seed into it will promote plant growth. If you try this a few times you will see how closely the Parable of the Sower and the Seed matches nature. Careless sowing will result in the loss of seed, three different ways (birds, thorns, rocky soil), but the seed which grows will be satisfying and surprising, more than making up for the loss. Besides, I prefer seed on the soil to seed stored in a dark cupboard.
Thus when we proclaim the Word of God, we have no notion of how it will produce, but we know God gives the growth.
Borage is now thriving and ready to send up seed stalks. One borage plant already has huge leaves in a rosette. It will be spectacular when it blooms and sows more seed through its flowers. (Borage is called Bee Bread for its ability to feed so many bees with its pollen. The pollinated flowers turn to seed and create more borage plants. The pink and blue flowers can be eaten fresh and put in salads.)
My efforts to grow warty gourds were successful. It was fun to have the church children rip up the gourd vines and harvest gourds for themselves. Such gourds have no practical value, but the children treated them like gold bars. Then when I was rooting out the grass along the pool fence, I found some light brown rocks. They were old, dried gourds full of seed. I put them in the weed/grass mulch combination for the base of our cape honeysuckle bushes. If the seeds are inclined to germinate and grow, I will have another crop of water gourds. At the very least I will have some green mulch, since the vines spread along the ground.
I will experiment nasturtiums this summer. They seem to spread and flower well. I will try to get hollyhocks established as well. Zinnia, cosmos, and bachelor buttons should do well. If all goes well, I will have a profusion of constantly blooming flowers around the pool, the only area in the yard watered and not covered with granite gravel. Every desert needs an oasis, so this will be mine.
An often neglected parable is the Seed Growing Secretly. If I remember correctly, it is only in Mark.
KJV Mark 4:26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
So we should fall asleep at night, after proclaiming the Word, and not worry about how all these things work. We do not know and cannot know, because it all belongs to God. Both parables teach, “Sow the seed, which is the Word.” Man’s response is often, “How can I be sure it will grow according to my standards?”