Today, we welcome Colleen Jackson for a guest post here at One Ringing Bell. Colleen is a long time writer-friend and one of the most Godly women I have ever known. Colleen has many talents and gifts, but today she puts on her gardener's hat and shares her insights with us.
Text and Photo by Colleen Capes Jackson
Last year, I designed a three-year plan for my fenced-in backyard perennial garden. First things first: It required research and study of planting guides to know which plants need shade or sun; when to water and fertilize; how to care for acid-loving plants; and which flowers attract birds and butterflies. I’m not a master gardener, but I am always researching how to be a good steward.
An arthritic at age 62, I wanted to garden-smart. I purchased containers of various heights to represent one for each year of my life. In December, I will have 63 containers ranging from yard sale finds, barrels, antique wash pots, chairs, popcorn poppers, and horse troughs. Thriller, filler, and spiller plants cascade over this galvanized metal container and is ideal to attach butterfly magnets or mementos of family trips.
I devoted one trough to attract butterflies and planted Miss Huff Lantana, Bronze Fennel and Salvia. The Swallowtail Butterfly lays eggs on the Bronze Fennel, and the amazing metamorphosis begins. The caterpillars hatch on the host plant, eat, and spin into a chrysalis. A couple of weeks later, the most beautiful butterfly emerges. In June, I brought some of the chrysalises in the house and placed them in my aquarium. When the cycle was complete, and their wings gained strength, I took the butterflies out into the garden. Holding them gently, I said a prayer of thankfulness and protection and released them into the air.
My garden is a haven filled with trickling fountains, aromatic mints and flowers, a palette of vibrant colors, red birdhouses and hoppers, perches, hummingbird feeders, stained glass, shimmering chandeliers, shepherd hooks, rocks, marbles, and wind chimes.
I repurposed antique dispensers such as a fire hydrant and a gas station oil dispenser to lend interest. Recycled blocks in a crisscross pattern provide height for cascading containers.
Breezes bend the tree tops and weave in and out the chimes to deliver pleasant-sounding melodies. In the distance, the songbirds identify themselves as they sweep into the garden for their morning and evening meals.
My garden offers a welcomed retreat where I spend time alone with God. It has become a place of discovery for me. One morning with my camera in hand, I asked, “What do you have for me today, Father?” The tie-dye, pink and red triple-braided hibiscus caught my eye.
The camera snapped away and zoomed in on the heart of every bloom. God reminded me of the scripture found in 1st Samuel 16:7 (NLT) . . . The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Humbled and overcome with joy as I admired the heart of the hibiscus, I offered this prayer of thankfulness: “Father, in the midst of my imperfections and insecurity, thank you for seeing something good and beautiful in me. Please help me to be a good steward of your confidence so that the labor of my hands will glorify your precious name.”
Colleen Capes Jackson is an award-winning freelance writer, motivational speaker, songwriter and photographer. Her desire is to share the recipe for true joy found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT): “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Jackson is the Founding Director of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers. She has 182 published credits in local newspapers and magazines. Awards include “Writer of the Year” at the 2008 Atlanta American Christian Writers Conference” and First Place in Religion in the 2009 Georgia Press Awards. She released an inspirational children’s CD, “I’m A Champion” in 2008 and a praise and worship CD, “Joy for the Storm Worn” in 2009. Her next CD, “Journey to Joy” will be published in 2015.
Dedicated to her craft and genuinely interested in the people she writes about, Jackson is passionate about inspiring others through her work as well as the subjects she chooses to highlight in her articles.
A resident of Georgia, Jackson enjoys bird watching, gardening and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.
Many thanks to Colleen.