It was a sunny but cool day in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden today. This was my first chance to work in the garden since the sudden snows arrived on December 3rd. And if you are from this area, you know that the snows never left until mid-March.
The garden looked good as the primrose were just starting to blossom and the daffodils were peaking their little green tips, possibly two or four inches high. Its hard to identify the plants this time of year unless you know what is planted where. I found some pretty reddish-purple tips of the bellflower just where they had mostly died off in previous years. I'm encouraged that they're coming back – in time, they will grow stems and leaf out, but for now they are just barely visible to the eye.
The biggest struggle this winter was the deer. Other years, we have never had deer in the garden over the winter; the sudden heavy snow in December caught us by surprise so we did not have time to wrap some of the trees and shrubs. By the time we got out to protect them on December 31st, some of the arborvitae and a real nice columnar pine were chewed right down. We also had damage to some hemlocks which I did not expect at all.
There are several hundred shrubs and trees in the garden and most of them did not get touched by the deer. Our predominate evergreens are junipers of all sorts which the deer did not devour. I enjoy the many various shapes and colors of junipers, some tall and upright, some low and spreading, and many assorted shapes in between. We use them to provide screening from the parking lot which can be busy at times, and to provide private areas within the garden for speaking with God.
The soft stone-dust pathways were a mess when I got there today. The deer had been generous in eating on one side of their body and dropping the digested portions out the other side. Also, plant debris from trees and flowers had blown onto the path so it really looked rough. It always amazes me how much better the garden looks when the walkways are raked this way – inviting us to walk where we want and enjoy our time with the Lord.
As Jesus said to his disciples, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21).
End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.