Posted by: Kara Luker | August 18, 2019

Planted in his garden

When we bought our home a handful of months ago, there was a modest collection of plants out front, including a row of large-ish spiked ones, that had been planted to stage the home for sale. They were not unattractive, but not exactly what I would have chosen. My first attempt to make it more appealing to my senses – and budget – was to work around what was already there. Apart from the remarkably laborious task of digging in rock solid dirt and navigating extensive tree roots, the process of shopping and planting was a delight. The result, however, looked disjointed and, as things started to grow in, proved to be overplanted and a bit jungly (which was definitely not the look I was going for). Also, a few of the plants I’d chosen to stand tall in the back row were lying down on the job. 

So… I presented my need for a strong anchor plant to my very tolerant husband who accompanied me to the nursery and helped me choose one – well, two, so there would be on one each side. He thought that was the end of the story and maybe I did too. I’m trying to piece together this next part like a detective would a murder, but here is the way I think things went down. Tired of my whining about how the preexisting lantana flowers clashed with my newer purchases, John had suggested I just remove the offending plants and be done with it. I took that as permission – a blanket permission, really – to take out what didn’t belong. That is when it hit me that I couldn’t plant my new anchor plants where I truly wanted them because of the darn spiky plants. They were the offenders, not the lantana. So, to John’s surprise (and mine), I ripped them out. And then I tore out the lantana, which it turns out, still offended. And then proceeded to remove every single loving plant in that garden, except for a single camellia cowering behind a tree trunk, silently begging for mercy. 

This wonderfully blank canvas launched me into a rather focused… okay fine, obsessive… search for plants that a) I loved and b) could survive the inconsistent light and soil in this particular spot. I had (and have) no idea what I’m doing with regard to the science or design of gardening, but I’ve hardly ever enjoyed anything more. In addition to excessive time researching plants online, I’ve frequented the garden department of Home Depot and several other nurseries, picked out plants, arranged and rearranged them, planted some, returned some, uprooted some and planted them in a different spot, returned some, bought more, arranged and rearranged and so on. Our guests over the summer would wake up to find me already out front with shovel in hand and a freakishly determined look in my eyes.

I don’t know if anything will live or how it will grow in. I probably overplanted again – I can’t seem to help myself – and may have gone a bit crazy with flowering varieties. But the result is a completed (I think) garden that I love with all my heart. I go out there first thing every morning to gaze at these plants – my plants – that were handpicked out of so many. I swear I could look at them all day. I nurture them to the best of my ability and even override my water usage guilt when they need a little extra quenching in this summer heat. Sometimes I sit on the driveway at the edge of the garden bed so I can see them up close and touch them and tell them how wonderful they are. Which brings me to the point of this post.

On one of my many trips to Home Depot, I found a small selection of groundcover roses tucked away. I didn’t even know they existed but their tag said they were low maintenance, could tolerate less than full sun and I love roses so I clearly needed them. After initially buying just a couple, I went back for more of both shades of pink. The only problem was that they were in rough shape. Really rough shape. Especially the dark pink ones. I mean, they looked like some of the dead plants I’ve returned (most places guarantee the survival of their plants, although those policies might change after experiencing me). But they were exactly what I wanted and the supply was very limited so I got them, planted them, cared for them and watched them so closely. Because of this attention, I have seen and totally rejoiced over the new growth that no one else would even have noticed. The smallest of bright green leaves and the tiniest of buds have graced several of these plants, especially the dark pink ones, and there have even been some blooms. There are still some scorched brown leaves but I’m not worried about that because I see creation at work. 

Rose bush


What hit me as absolute truth while I was sitting on the driveway hanging out with the roses last week was that this is the way God sees us. He handpicks us with such care (and sooo much more understanding than I have) – to complete His joy – and plants us in locations that provide the best opportunities for growth. His engagement with us isn’t a duty but a delight. He can’t wait to see us in the morning and would find any reason to pass by just to look at us. He doesn’t mind for a minute the work our upkeep requires. And He isn’t daunted by our damage because He sees creation at work. 

This is so incredibly encouraging to me and I thought it might be to you too. We so often write ourselves off because we still have scorched leaves – maybe pesky behaviors or mindsets or outright damage. I mean, when I accepted Jesus, I felt like I was supposed to suddenly become a thriving person with established roots and abundant blooms. I wasn’t. I was a wreck – like the kind you’d return to Home Depot – for many, many years. And even now, I’ve still got some rough areas. But God doesn’t focus on that like I do. He sees and rejoices over new growth. Any new growth. It doesn’t matter if it goes undetected by myself or others. He sees. Because He is keeping a close watch. He is engaged. He is smitten with our presence in His garden. And He is committed to the nurture – and the time – it will take to grow us.

So take heart. Set aside your timeline of where you should be by now, your sense of failure, your hopelessness. Rest in His ability. Let His presence and His love nurture you to your very roots as He rejoices over you and cares for you and causes you to grow into the fullness of what you were created to be.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zeph 3:17 NLT


  1. Thanks for sharing! This is a great encouragement. Hope you and John are well!

    • So good to hear from you Greg! We are doing well and seem to keep getting the grace we need as we go. Hope and pray the same for you. All the best, Kara

  2. Young Lady,

    You are talking to a gardener, to one who stairs at our massive garden and takes rich delight in “taming the forest.” We are on two acres, and I have slowly moved into the woods with ideas that have worked, thanks to hostases and ferns. Well done and well applied truths!



    • I didn’t realize you are a gardener – of 2 acres no less! What a joy to tame and enjoy. I don’t have any ferns but absolutely love my Hostas 🙂

  3. Lovely! By the way, these little roses love being cut back. They bush out! So, when they flower, cut off the dead a bit lower than the bloom and more will come! The plants will last for years and years! Have fun!!!! Blessings, pam

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thank you for the tip!! Absolutely love these plants 🙂

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