Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pruning butterflies

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.
John 15:1 (NIV)

What a difference 18 months makes. Since moving into our house in central Pennsylvania a number of shrubs have experienced significant growth. As a result, and in preparation for the winter months, my husband and I considered the various landscaping needs around our property.

We took into account the Red Maple in the corner of the backyard. The recent dry, hot summer certainly took a toll on the huge tree. Of particular interest to me, however, was the Butterfly Bush located on the north side of our home. Little more then a year ago it was all but a stick-like stump. Over the months, however, it had grown into a rather gangly, unruly plant.

As a side note, for those readers familiar with my gardening prowess, or lack thereof, I must mention that I do have a bit of experience with the Butterfly Bush. The prior owner of our house in Missouri had planted a hedge of Buddleias along the property line. Consequently, I came to appreciate the beauty of the robust plant. The hardy shrubbery's arching stems had an almost hypnotic effect as they swayed in the wind. What a treat it was watching a cloud of butterflies, attracted by the plant's nectar-rich flowers, move from bush to bush.

My husband and I are by no means expert gardeners. We do know, however, that pruning will enhance the appearance of our shrubs and trees as well as fix any damaged areas; not to mention, keep the plants from growing out of control. Consequently, we made plans for the care of each plant: corrective pruning on the Redbud and Ornamental Pear trees, shearing of the Euonymous, Barberries and Spirea, and hand reduction of the Forsythia, Viburnum, Pyracantha and Butterfly Bush.

Interestingly, I learned that the Butterfly Bush has a tendency to give gardeners fits when it comes to pruning. Sharp loppers are needed to chop back the tough "weeping" side branches to just a cluster of main stems in the center of the bush. The center stems are left as tall as possible without having the tops droop down. This usually means some of the top growth is cut back, in addition to the more "beefy" side stems. I was cautioned that the end result could be a plant that resembles a plucked chicken. Nevertheless, my encouragement came from being told that these amazing beauties respond well to pruning and by next spring I could expect new growth and a display of colorful blooms.

"I am the vine," Jesus said. "You are the branches." (John 15) He said His Father, the Master Gardener, prunes His children. He cuts away whatever it is that hampers our individual growth in order that we may experience the richest, most fruitful of lives. Hardships certainly may be painful. But, what we see as tragedies may only be blessings in disguise and the very opportunities through which God chooses to reveal His love and grace.

Dear friend, are you being pruned today? Have your dreams been dashed? Has the dearest in life been torn from you? You can trust Him to do what is best in every situation. God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

Blessings, dear friend
Faithfully Following

Photo: Mountain Valley Growers

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