Friday, June 22, 2012
The Resilient Lily
Deer are perhaps the most talked-about critter among gardeners. In our Master Gardener class this past winter, for example, I learned that deer are actually a worse problem for many families living in the local town of Farmville (yes, that's the town's real name) than for some of us living in the country. A small herd of deer, for example, has taken up residence in a housing development. There are undeveloped lots within the housing development - lots with steep hillsides, I am told, that make it very expensive and difficult to build houses. So the developer left them as empty, wooded lots. There are ponds nearby, and streams, and so the deer have become very comfortable living in the empty wooded lots and wandering into the neighbors' yards each evening to feed. Someone reported that an entire landscape was eaten overnight by voracious deer; azaleas, for the most part, but every flower the homeowner planted around his house was devoured in one night.
I lost most of our shade garden kit that way from deer emerging from the woods and nibbling the plants down to stubs, although the problem that I had with sand washing down from the pathways also compounded what was already poor quality soil. I've written about this before in a post called The Winding Garden Path, so I won't beat myself up or bore you again with the details. Suffice to say that experience is indeed a great teacher when it comes to gardening.
The shade garden kit we purchased from the catalog included daylilies, coral bells, lilies and hosta. Note that last two plants, please: lilies and hosta. I might as well hung up an "all you can eat" buffet sign for the deer by planting lilies and hosta. Deer love to eat both Asiatic lilies and hosta. Within weeks, the struggling plants had been eaten to the quick. I plant hosta right next to my porch now - the deer don't come that close to the house. There's plenty for them to eat in the woods and among the fields, and I keep hoping they won't notice the hosta "candy" planted by the porch steps.
I thought that all of the original shade garden plants were gone for good, but as I've been quoted as saying, "Nature is resilient." This beautiful lily bloomed for the first time, a remnant of that shade garden kit planted several years ago. Nodding among the new plants, it lends a bright, cheerful color to a darker corner of the garden, drawing the eye down the pathways.
I love that lily. Lilies are a sign of rebirth. There's a reason why at Easter, many churches include lilies as part of their decorations. They symbolized resurrection, and seeing that lily struggle out of the poor soil, push forth energy into producing leaves and stems again after being chewed to death by the deer, and finally making a brazen statement - "I am here. I live. You cannot keep me from blooming!"
Lately, I have been meeting a lot of people like that lily. So many people among my circle of family and friends lately struggling with cancer, other illnesses, economic insecurity and family troubles. It's like the infection from the world has spread down to the personal level; no one is without struggles. Yes, everyone has always had their share of problems, but lately I feel as if everywhere I turn, someone has bad news and needs prayers and emotional support, which I am glad to give.
I cannot watch the nightly news anymore; it's story after story of war, tragedy, people behaving badly. I suppose the world was always thus. We watched the movie Spartacus the other night and the cruelty of ancient Rome was a good reminder that yes, the world was the same, or perhaps even worse in some ways, throughout all of time. The human heart doesn't change much over the centuries. The expression of vice and virtue does.
There among my plants blooms this lone lily, a symbol of hope and rebirth, a survivor of my hardscaping mistakes when I tried to build the path the first time, a survivor of deer, drought and insects. And it blooms more lovely than ever.
Among the vice of the world, virtue blooms too. It is often hidden among the dirt and debris of the world's garden, but it is there.
The world may have its share of troubles, but with God's grace, we continue to bloom where we are planted.