Monday, August 19, 2013

Flower Power

Flower Power 

     Emma keeps a large informal vegetable garden inside a rickety picket fence. Some vegetables are planted in rows outside the garden fence. Many, however are tucked away in raised beds among the herbs and flowers. I find this style of garden relaxing. It’s a bit wild somehow. A seemingly random mixture of herbs, flowers and vegetables appears at first glance to be self-seeded, springing up quite on its own. I know, however, that Emma’s casual supervision over her plants is actually a skill that is acquired by considerable experience – a great many hours spent in peaceful contemplation of her garden. Pocketfulof Pinecones page 183

     Two years ago I received a letter from a friend and pulled a seed packet out of the envelope. The flower seeds were a gift. She wrote to sprinkle the seeds directly, in autumn, on some soft earth. Cover lightly.

A Contented Toad
A Contented Toad by the Back Door

     I found a spot in the front garden and did exactly that. In spring they sprouted. The leafy stems grew several inches high. They remained happy that way, all last summer, without flowering. 

     In winter they withered. That’s okay. I knew that Sweet William is a biannual. It blooms where it is seeded – the second year.

Sweet Williams in Full Bloog
Sweet Williams in Full Bloom

     Another long winter passed. In springtime the leafy stems grew double in height. They bloomed more beautifully than I ever imagined. I’ve been able to do so little gardening this year, therefore I was thankful for the timing of this little patch of loveliness.

     Nature is full of wonder but can also be irksome. Our many rain showers threatened my patch. The Sweet Williams drooped, soaked and buffeted by repeated downpours. I hadn’t thought them tall enough to stake.  

Rain Shower out the front door
A Rain Shower as Viewed from the Front Door

     “Oh, no,” I said to the Man-of-the-House when we got out of the car in our hooded raincoats and walked closer to the house. “Look at my flowers! And the forecast is calling for more rain.” The Man-of-the-House saw the arched-over patch. It was arched to the ground. Not being a man of few words he usually has something to say. I was expecting something. But he was speechless. I could tell, however, by his tightened brow that his sympathy was genuine.  

Frequent Rains Invite Toadstools
 “Where are you going,” he said to my back when I stomped (and splashed) away in the spongy wet grass.  

    “To get the clippers,” I said without turning around.

Sweet William flowers hot pink
One Hot Pink Sweet William is Eye-Catching

     I cut some flowers and brought them inside out of the rain. They drooped dolefully in a vase. But in the morning I saw hope was not in vain, for the Sweet Williams had straightened their stems overnight. A phrase from the 1970s came to mind: Flower Power. Anyway, I was pleased with my pink-petal bouquet. The morning sun was bright, the sky blue, and I was uplifted by a moment of Mother Culture.

Colonial Wing Chair in the parlor

     The rest of the Sweet Williams I left untouched anticipating they would go to seed. A few finger taps to a dry flower-head releases black seeds. A fancy paper bag, I saved from a gift shop purchase, could be used to make seed-packets, it crossed my mind - to slip seeds into my letters. Thus the cycle of life continues.

Flower Seeds homemade seed packet
Homemade Seed Packet of Sweet Williams
     Curious, I opened Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers to look up the meaning of Sweet William. “Gallantry” it stated. “Hmm, that’s suitable,” I thought. The language of flowers is only folklore but I could use a reminder to be brave, spirited, cheerfully self-sacrificing – even nobly chivalrous – translated in feminine terms, that is.  

Amish Harvest of Hay
An Amish Neighbor's Harvest of Hay

     There is a pressing need in my life to practice gallantry. In every Christian life there is struggle, the requirement of long-suffering, the call to be of service and put self aside. There can be pain in the struggle - and even anguish. Yet our Lord Jesus bears all our sorrows. He fills our hearts with the peace of heaven when we place our trust in Him. 

    Nature has tempests but a harvest of ripened fruit is gathered (in time and with trouble) by the Sweet Williams of the world.   

Until Next Time,
Karen Andreola

Sweet Williams in a Vase


  1. Karen,
    This post is much appreciated.The Sweet William's are beautiful.Flower Power , I remember that phrase too.I am sorry to learn that you are unable to enjoy your gardening.Each season of life has its own beauty,if we will but see. I am learning at the age of 52,I need to lean even harder on Jesus,He alone is able to carry us through,Blessings,Dawn E. Brown

  2. The name William means "determined guardian" bringing to mind thoughts of steadfastness and endurance.
    From yesterday's sermon...Luke 8:15
    "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the Word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with endurance.
    I thank you for your "sweet" and timely post.
    deb h

  3. Your Sweet William is lovely..the bright spot of all the rain is how beautifully green your garden is, too. I'm sorry you aren't able to garden so much this season.

    We have a similar climate here in western VA, and it's been a sad year for tomatoes and certain flowers, but the cucumbers have been the best we've ever had, so we'll have pickles for the winter.

    As another homeschool year begins soon, I have to remind myself to slow down and plan what works best for our family. Rereading your "Companion" and perusing these posts helps me keep my focus.

    His peace to you and yours.


  4. My Sweet Williams have done beautifully where I planted them over 7 years ago. They bloom and bloom throughout the summer months. I have never thought of cutting them back...maybe next year I'll bring some blooms inside :)

    Delightful story Karen...thank you so much for sharing a bit of your day with me. m.

  5. Simple, yet beautiful flowers!


  6. What a lovely post Karen. I have just recently enjoyed another interlude with 'Mother Culture' through your book 'Pocketful of Pinecones'. My 4th stroll through I believe :o) - I do so love the way Carol gently leads her children in nature study. In fact, it has inspired me to re-assess our nature time and do a bit of adjusting.
    Thanks you for your beautiful books - all of which I am blessed to own - and your beautiful blog.

    Blessings in Christ
    Shirley Ann - England

  7. The flowers are so peaceful and pretty! The view of the property is lovely as well.

    Your sweet lessons are an inspiration, as always.

    Mrs. White
    The Legacy of Home

  8. That toad is as cute as he can be!

    I remember a conversation in the garden between Emma and Carol about much of the accomplishments in this world being made by people who don't feel very well.

    Our garden is on our back deck this year. My back is often fussy and doesn't respond well to bending and pulling. The pots on the deck have been an adequate modification to the typical garden plot.

    We often have to modify our methods and plans due to physical, financial, or time constraints. There is surely an art to knowing what to modify and how...perhaps we improve as we practice.

    I've watched others as limitations arise. Some people are gracious and full of peace (like Emma - such a lovely lady you introduced us to, Karen!) I want to be like her!


  9. Beautiful post, beautiful flowers! We're trying to do some seed saving this year, but I hadn't thought of saving flower seeds... Thank you for the inspiration! Do you have deer that like to visit your property, Karen? I'm asking since we do frequently have visits from "Bambi" and wonder if Sweet William is a plant that deer enjoy or avoid. So sorry you haven't been able to do much in the way of gardening. :( Yet, I praise the Lord for the seeds you plant here in this space! And look at all the lovely blooms here in the comments section. :) Thank you for the reminders to tend the Mother Culture in our lives!

    Blessings, ~Lisa :)

  10. "In every Christian life there is struggle, the requirement of long-suffering, the call to be of service and put self aside. There can be pain in the struggle - and even anguish. Yet our Lord Jesus bears all our sorrows. He fills our hearts with the peace of heaven when we place our trust in Him. "

    This really spoke to me and was what I needed to hear. There is much pain in my's been 18 years now that I have been praying for my unsaved husband, and this coupled with a child with autism makes life difficult every single day. But praise to the Lord Jesus, I'm still here, pressing on, with all my hope and Trust in Him alone

  11. Dear Ladies,

    I'm soaking up your phrases:

    He alone can carry us
    determined guardian
    fruit that endures
    noble and good heart
    beautiful flowers
    bloom and bloom
    keeping my focus
    full of peace
    Mother Culture in our lives

    Thank you

    My soul is warmed when I hear that my readers return to my stories and like my characters. I like Emma, too. Emma comprises the gentle strength of a couple of older women I was blessed to have known.

    Yes, we counted eleven deer at the edge of our forest. Our neighbor pins white plastic bags along her garden and says it works to keep deer and rabbits away. I guess that's why such creatures live with us. The deer nibble on the little dogwoods but leave the flowers. Our Flopsy bunnies (we counted five) frolic near the house and like to eat plantains best of all.

    I enjoy our visits.

    Time to get back to work.
    Karen A.

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  13. I wish we lived closer together and could have tea, perhaps with a Madeleine?

    I love these flowers, they are beautiful. My garden is doing okay.

    It is already a challenge to garden due to the fatigue issues but this year with the dizziness added, I could not keep up with the weeding and watering (we had too much rain in the beginning and now are in a near drought pattern).

    But as I've harvested what I can, I see each veggie as grace that they grew at all!

    Love your writing, as usual.

  14. I always feel like I've sat down in the kitchen of a dear friend when I get your posts in my inbox. We just went on a flower expedition this afternoon and brought home a curious orange and brown wildflower. I don't know what it is, but I'm going to dig into my flower books and find out.

    Just recieved your books via Amazon today! So looking forward to reading your books and thoughts on Charlottte Mason. Blessings!

  15. Sometimes just a "moment" of mother culture is all we need.

    I like this reminder. Even if I'm not able to squeeze more time than that in my day, a moment will do.

    It's a comfort to me when I feel those layers being peeled away of my "self", to know that Jesus knows the pain of it all. yes. I enjoy how you have woven this into your post today. This reminder is needed daily in the home...

    How creative to send little seed packets in the mail. This was my favorite part of your post. I glean from fun ideas like this and can hardly wait to do this with the children this week!

    I've never heard of Sweet Williams. They are pretty. And look as if they enjoy shade?

    And, by the looks of how busy you are harvesting seed and carrying on the blessing of sharing them...I would say you are doing more "gardening" than you think.

    ;-) ...gardening your friendships.

    An enjoyable visit with you today.

    Take Care~

  16. White plastic bags... Thanks for the tip. :)

  17. I know we need go be content and bloom where we are planted, but oh, what would it be like to live where it is so green!!! What nature studies could be done with such beautiful tall trees in the backyard! I must admit that I'm a little 'green' myself (with envy)!

    Your posts are always a sweet breath of fresh air in my hectic life!


  18. What a wonderful post. Will never see "Sweet William" again without being reminded of "gallantry" and challenged to pick up my chin and soldier on. Thank you.

  19. Your bouquet of Sweet William is beautiful...goes right along with this beautiful post. I always love visiting you dear friend.

  20. You have a lovely blog Karen. I actually planted some Sweet William seedlings yesterday in 3 pots.

  21. Loved this post.
    We're supposed to have a light dusting of snow tonight.
    That's rare in southern Missouri in November.
    Happy Thanks Living!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage