Pruning in the Time of COVID-19


I am not a master gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I love plants and flowers and playing in the dirt. Walking through garden centers in the spring brings me such calm and joy that I really can’t even give it words. I love walking up and down each aisle – sometimes knowing what I am looking for and sometimes reading the tags of plants that jump out at me and trying to figure out if I have a good place to plant them. I especially love plants that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies and I’m learning to love more native plants because I am much less likely to kill them when July and August roll around and I’m done with going out in the heat to water!

Over the past few years, we have begun planting more and more perennials around our house. They cost a bit more (especially when I don’t know what I am doing and kill them), but I still have a child-like wonder when I discover that they actually made it through winter and new blooms arrive.  My son is starting to enjoy it as well. He has planted a strawberry plant the past two years and grew cantaloupes last summer. We finally went into a garden center (masks on!) this week (much better than curbside pickup of plants that I had done earlier) and how could I deny him when he asked for 2 new plants and actually had them named before we got to the car?!

What I have never been very good at is pruning. It is one of those things that I know is SUPPOSED to help my plants look better, but cutting them back always has seemed so sad to me. And, to be honest, I often forget the optimum time of year to prune different plants.

But that changed this year. In February, I actually remembered to prune the rosebush that we planted two years ago. Eileen Thrash’s voice ringing in my ear to trim them on Valentine’s Day actually helped me remember. And it now is blooming better than it ever has. Incredible blooms in a beautiful orangish pink hue. Then this spring we found three caterpillars on our dill and brought them in to do their thing. But I was having to cut my little dill plant daily to keep them fed. It was looking pretty sad, but now is big and bushy, and doing better than any dill I have ever grown. Our day lilies are incredible this year. I am hopefully learning my lesson.

Jesus had something to say about pruning in John 15:1-5:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me.

This verse hit me between the eyes this afternoon as I was sitting on my back patio just gazing at some of our flowers.  The lessons I have learned first-hand gardening this spring are some of the same lessons I am just now beginning to learn in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders/suggestions.  Lots of things have been pruned from my life in the last six weeks – some for good and some not. Life is hard in quarantine when you are trying to work a full time job and have a very social little who desperately misses his friends and can’t do his school work alone. I miss seeing my people! Yet, the frenetic pace of life we were leading has drastically slowed down, frivolous spending and eating out have been cut way back. I have had time to take walks with my family and to pause with a devotional book and a cup of coffee on the patio in the morning, when before it was just a race from the moment we got up until we left for work/school and again when we got home from work/school until bedtime. I have spent more time in prayer and am enjoying leading a Zoom Bible study. And then there’s my child sharing his joy during his Zoom Sunday School that he gets to spend more time with his family.

I don’t think life is ever going to fully return to what it was pre-COVID 19.  We have been creating a “new normal” for the past six weeks, but I don’t think it is just a temporary thing. Our new normal will continue to evolve and grow. We aren’t going back. And I am curious to see how much I will continue to trust this pruning that is happening in my life, making way for beautiful new growth in the future.

I would love to hear what has been/is being pruned from your life, making way for beautiful new growth to appear. What can we do to help remind one another of the importance and gifts of pruning?

And then there is that whole plant food/fertilizer thing, but that will have to wait for a different blog!

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