We moved into our house in mid-August. It came on the heels of months of being in temporary living quarters while we built. Now, this too is not our permanent home. It’s a shop house, barn house, barndominium, outdoor kitchen… whatever people call these things to make them feel better about the fact that when they shout at their children, “Hey, close the door! Were you raised in a barn?” you find yourself answering your own question… “Actually, yes. This is sort of a barn. Nevermind. Just go play.” #parentingfail
But listen, the truth is, I love this shop house. Like, really, really love it. We’ve got lovely crown molding, a long, welcoming dining table, and the coziest fireplace flanked by a hearth built with antique bricks salvaged from my great-grandpa’s house. So I guess you could say we may have overdone the finishes on a “temporary house,” but I have no regrets.
So back to August. Shortly after we moved in, sweet husband asked what I wanted for my birthday coming up in September. Without any hesitation, I said, “Landscaping!” It mattered not that this was only a temporary home. At any rate, we were going to be here longer than five minutes, which ensured that I was going to take my opportunity to make it into as much of a quaint, welcoming home as I could.
One small problem though. I literally have the blackest thumb on the planet. As in, I could kill a cactus in about a week, and even that seems optimistic. I didn’t even know if you could landscape in the fall. That’s how clueless I was. Bless it, Lord.
Not to be one to shy away from something I know nothing about, I called a friend of mine who has the golden touch– on just about everything. I’m telling you, watch out Joanna Gaines… Val is coming! She told me a few different plants to look for, nurseries to go to, and several tips and tricks. She also mentioned she had someone bring in compost dirt for her beds. Very helpful indeed!
I looked up the Lowe’s website and found that they sold a compost and manure mixture. Perfect! I knew enough to know that manure was a great fertilizer, so I was obviously on the right track! We prepared the outline of the most beautiful, curvy beds. Sweet husband installed the edging, and then he had to leave for work for a few days. We were scheduled to go the nursery when he returned, so I had to get those beds ready to go. No problem! I got this! I went to Lowe’s and picked up about twenty 40 lb bags of compost and manure. Brought those babies home and unloaded them like a beast! Got them all spread out… and still had more of the beds to cover. Well, shoot. This is going to take more than I thought. I went back and got twenty more bags. Came back and dumped them out. STILL, not enough. I went back once more and filled every square inch of the suburbus with nearly a literal TON of CRAP. That was a pleasant ride home. BLESS.
Satisfied with my efforts, and finally having filled the beds and prepped them for plants, I got some horrible news. I don’t even remember at this point who broke the news to me, but someone who loved me enough to say, “Wait, girl, what??” told me that you apparently cannot fill your beds entirely with manure. It will burn the plants. I mean, considering it nearly burned my retinas and nose hairs off driving home, that did seem feasible.
And so, I spent another many hours shoveling (again, literal) crap out of my flower beds and then making more trips to Lowe’s to refill the beds. On the upside, this time I knew exactly how many bags of top soil sans manure it would take. Also, sweet husband had made it home from his days at work by this time, so I didn’t have to haul and spread alone. Thank you, Jesus.
When we had scooped out the poop and were ready to start fresh, he asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to put down black paper before we start?” We didn’t have any on hand, and that would just waste an extra couple of hours. “Nah, it won’t be bad. I’ll make sure the weeds don’t grow.”
Famous. Last. Words.
I now spend a vast majority of my outdoor moments sitting in the flower beds pulling out weeds. Sooooo many weeds. And listen, it is annoying. But also, it’s kind of cathartic. And just like always, there have been quiet whispers of lessons in the midst of stupid crap (figurative) that you’d think would have no meaning.
Do you know where things grow? Down in the dirt. In the messy, dirty places of our lives, that is where we see growth. When we have the proper foundation (black paper, top soil, mulch), we will see the beauty of the good things growing in the garden. When we skip the foundation, take shortcuts to try to get our pretty flowering plants in the ground, we will find that when the rain comes, the weeds begin to pop up everywhere and ruin the beauty that was intended there.
Don’t skip the foundation. Be diligent in prayer. Be faithful in reading the word and laying down the groundwork the way it should be laid. Take the time to begin your garden with the things that are going to allow you to see the best kinds of growth. Because when the rain comes—and it will surely come—you will find that no matter how well you’ve prepared, the weeds will threaten to grow in your life. Those things that don’t belong will attempt to creep up and rob your garden of its beauty. But that foundation? It will be the saving grace in ensuring that the garden is not overtaken. We can quickly and easily see the weeds and pluck them out to protect what was planted.
And most importantly, growth. Growth happens in the garden. In the dirt and the mess, when the rain comes, the right foundation allows all the good things to grow… There is beauty waiting—in the garden.