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photo & graphic: Martha G. Brady

photo & graphic: Martha G. Brady

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It was in Jamaica that I learned to garden and love it! I had two of the best teachers in the world: Jennifer Godfrey and Judy Levy. They loved growing plants and knew all about every plant imaginable! Of course, I knew next to nothing about plants, particularly keeping them alive!

I learned the key to keeping plants alive. There is nothing magical called having a green thumb. It is developed over time. In the process of developing that green thumb, some plants will die. You often learn as much by the plants that die as by those that survive.

I learned the key to keeping plants alive. There is nothing magical like having a green thumb. Click To Tweet

When you buy the plant or get the cutting, know the amount of sun they want. Don’t plant a sun-loving plant in the shade. It won’t do well. It won’t bloom.  If it does, it will get all gangly and ugly before it does trying to find the sun and it will not look healthy! For plants that want to be in the shade,  if they are in the sun, they will burn up! They will cook, their leaves will dry up and they will be gone!

The other thing I learned is that the quickest way to will kill a plant is by over watering it. When we don’t know much about plants, it is easy to water them whenever we see them thinking they  need water. The next thing you know is they are wilting over and are dead because their roots rotted. So make sure you know how much water they want. If they need water, they droop so they can get it before they die. Water perks them up and they are good to go. A good rule of thumb is, if the soil is damp, don’t water.

If you master those key rules, you will be surprised how many of your plants will do extremely well! Then make sure you get to know friends who garden in the area where you live and you will get excellent advice for growing what you love there.

Gardening is not a skill that is learned in a day, a week or a year. It is a skill that is learned over time, with mentoring from others and a sharing of oneself.

When I first started gardening under Judy and Jennifer’s tutelage, I worked with plants outside. It was easier. The rain helped me. I didn’t have to remember the watering part unless it was unusually dry. That’s something that just doesn’t happen in Jamaica. As I learned more and more, I was able to try new plants. Often they had extra cuttings from their gardens to share. That was very helpful of course and it saved me money too! Once I was more familiar with plants and their sun and water needs, then I was able to  work with indoor plants…which I still don’t manage very well!

Moving back to FL after Jamaica was a gift in terms of gardening. I was able to grow most of the plants I had grown in Jamaica. It was great.

When I moved to TX, I had to add some plants to my dance card. They had seasons. I soon found friends who knew plants and it wasn’t long before I made the adjustment to the new weather. Tyler was a great location for gardening.

Azaleas and roses grew easily in the red, acidic soil. Not much further west and you were in Dallas where it was more of a struggle to grow plants. It was drier too!

It was fun being able to grow azaleas and hydrangea. I always wanted to grow them but wasn’t able to in FL. Growing plants feels like a way of cooperating with GOD in creation. Yes, we often have to fight weeds or disease here and there. But we find ways to set up our garden in a way to lessen the number of weeds.

Gardening brought me much joy and pleasure over my lifetime

Some years I got to spend more time gardening. Other years, there wasn’t much time. But I always had a spot where I had some flowers blooming for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others who passed by.

They are such a beautiful reminder of GOD’s creative grace to us. He shows it in His world all around us. I so often take it for granted. But there is so much beauty and diversity in His world.

Don’t you love it? I’m grateful for those years in Jamaica when Judy and Jennifer got me started in gardening. It was the beginning of many years of creativity and beauty as I learned to cooperate with the way GOD made each plant.

Understanding the wants and needs of plants is a lot like understanding the wants and needs of people

Learning to garden taught me about meeting the needs of my plants. It taught me how to help them thrive in the world of weeds, disease and too much or too little sun or water. It was often a parable to me of what I needed to do to relate to people…a skill I needed to learn for life.

Learning to garden taught me about meeting the needs of my plants. It taught me how to help them thrive in the world of weeds, disease and too much or too little sun or water. Click To Tweet

I talked above about the plants wanting a certain amount of sun or water. That is how Judy and Jennifer spoke about them. The comparison with people was impossible to escape! They both married young (19) and had their families young. We were all the same age but instead of having toddlers,most of their children were in school.  They understood way more than I about relationships, people and getting along with people who are different.

They also understood about accepting differences, life and its changes instead of fighting everything that comes along! Yes, they were newish Christians, but what they taught me about life and gardening and love for Christ was way more than I taught them!

When the time came that we had to leave Jamaica, there was a ripping and tearing of part of my heart…and they were in that place!

Challenge: what creative skills have you learned that have brought pleasure and enjoyment into your life?

How have they taught you more about GOD and who He is?

How have they taught you something about life and the way it needs to be lived?

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