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Capes Jackson: Go green!
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The birds haven’t visited my garden lately. I can’t really blame them. Over the winter months, I abandoned the white fenced-in area filled with bird feeders, red double knockout roses, butterfly bushes, flowering annuals and perennials, garden art, wind chimes, fountain and my favorite bench. As I opened the gate this weekend, my eyes swept over empty clay pots, dead flowers, rose bushes void of shape and color, molded feeders and a fountain filled with murky water and algae.

With the onset of spring less than two weeks away, I donned my gloves and armed myself with pruning shears, and several tools to aerate the soil. As I thought through my plan of action, I stretched the garden hose as far as it would reach.

I began pulling out dead plants while I envisioned what would take their place. My pronged garden tool came in handy as I clawed through the dirt removing deep-seated roots. I emptied the clay pots, gave them a good spray and set them in a sunny place to dry. As I brushed back the sweat running down my face, I straightened up to assess how the clean-up was coming along. I muttered under my breath, "This is a lot of work. Why did I neglect something that used to bring me so much joy?"

My daughter dropped by to visit just as I began pruning the roses. We chatted as I eliminated the dead, diseased and damaged canes that once yielded such beautiful dark, velvet red blooms. "Ever wonder why God made something so beautiful to grow at the end of thorns?" she asked. I smiled as I thought of the many questions she pondered and posed to me over the past 30 years. "Perhaps, it is to remind us that things of beauty are fragile and have to be handled with care," I answered holding out a pricked finger.

Every year I add something new in my garden. Last year, it was a water fountain I bought at the close of the summer. Well aware that wildlife can’t read, I wasn’t satisfied until my husband helped me to hang a wooden, blue welcome sign over the fountain. A southern belle true to tradition, I enjoy extending the hand of hospitality. As I cleaned out the debris from the pump and sanitized the fountain, I thought of how the oasis brought me hours of pleasure last year. Flanked with tropical plants and a variety of feeders filled with tasty treats, the fountain lured the most beautiful butterflies, cardinals and finches.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a garden sanctuary. It does take time and energy. I hope I’ve inspired you to invest in making a place of beauty where you can curl up with your favorite book or passage of scripture. Here’s one of mine from Psalms 23:1-3, "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name" (NLT).

Working in the garden teaches life lessons. Sometimes things look dead — but if you peel away a layer of the stem and see green, there’s life and hope. Sometimes life is just waiting on us to recognize potential. Go Green!