Gift #1055: In the Garden

Hello again!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I’m back from my holiday travels to visit family.  I came back with a sinus infection (a Christmas present I hadn’t planned on) and have been taking it easy the past few days.  The meds are helping and I’m feeling much better today.   I’ve spent the days taking care of some things around the house, knitting a lot, and resting.  It’s hard to believe that 2016 has come to an end and in just a few hours we’ll be welcoming in a new year!  I’ve been seeing lots of social posts and pics on Instagram and it’s interesting to see all the different reactions people have to a new year.  Some are giddy and excited about unknown adventures and the hope of something new.  Some are looking forward to learning new things, exploring new places, re-envisioning their lives as happier and fuller.  Others are pensive and sad; afraid to lose the safe and known.  And still others are worried about the future and what it will hold.  I wish I were more like those who can greet an unknown future with cheerful abandon and just find joy in what might happen.  That’s not a natural attitude for me.  I’m a fearful person and when I’m not afraid, I wonder what I’m overlooking that I should be fearful of.  So I can completely sympathize with those who feel nearly overwhelmed by the thought of a new year.  However, I try to keep things into perspective.  A lot will happen that will be out of my control; there will be happy things and new adventures and there will be difficult challenges and probably some uncomfortable things.  That’s just the nature of life.  But when I get fearful, I will remember that nothing that happens in 2017 takes God by surprise.  He holds it all and He holds my heart and life.  One of the ways I try to remind my heart of that truth is to look for the ordinary miracles that surround us.  And so a few days ago I took a walk through the gardens to see what was going on – this is one of the best places to look for miracles.

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In about 2 weeks, I will have reached my winter-tolerance level and will be raving mad for anything green.  That kind of attitude makes January, February, and much of March pretty difficult for me. The Virgina Creeper kept its leaves quite late until the year and then dropped them all nearly overnight.  The blue berry clusters left hanging on the bare vines make a striking contrast against the brick.  I’ll be keeping a hawk’s eye on it to see when little green buds develop.  Is next week too soon to expect them?

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The hydrangea are resplendent in their faded glory.  Soft petals are now tissue-paper ghosts of summer but they still thrill my heart.  I love hydrangea in every season and in some ways, even more in the fall/winter months than in high summer.  These dried blooms keep me company and remind me that spring is coming.  Not everything in the garden is slumbering though.

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The feather ferns are still maintain a fair bit of green despite being rather fragile and not withstanding freezes well.  I love this shot because it looks like a secret entrance to a ferny, green wonderland full of dragonflies, frogs, and lilies.  If only I was small enough to crawl in… what wonders might I find there?

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Lilac bushes are already putting out buds, in anticipation of early spring.  The lilacs were a bit confused and were about to start putting out flowers in late November until a hard freeze reminded them that they needed to go through winter first.  We had a very warm fall and so those first freezes didn’t happen until December and they were a bit harsh.  The magnolia bush has also loaded up buds on her stems but she was shy about being photographed and refused to focus for the camera.  Sigh… sometimes plants can be so temperamental!

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But my special joy was finding new growth in the hellebores!  These beloved plants will grow right on through the winter and if we’re lucky will even start blooming soon.  They are such precious gifts in long hard winter.  They keep blooming and growing, reminding us that even in hard places life can still thrive.  As we begin the new year, their new growth is a comfort to me that life and beauty can be found in any season.  May the new year bring you much joy.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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