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Sparks Fly

I went into the garden in a reflective mood this morning after reading A Sacred Journey at breakfast. An article by Rabbi Robert Freedman and another by Erika Hastings got me thinking about gardening as a form of prayer. Of course it’s possible: anything, art, dance, music, and yes, gardening, can be a way to communicate with the divine. But can I do it? Can I get out of my own head as I plant and weed?

Maybe. But right away I found out what I can not do – dig in a gravel bed with a shovel. There is a slope by my rain garden that is filled with gravel. We need to be able to potentially drive on this area should it become necessary to get a bobcat down to the lower part of the property, but nothing prevents me from planting perennials on that slope. I’ve been scattering seeds that I know will self-seed in gravel, and today I planned to put in a few plants as well. Ox eye daisies and an Aster lateriflorus were slated to join the already sprouting verbascum. Note to self: order seeds for Echium vulgare to scatter among the daisies.

The shovel being worthless, I got a trowel and my Cobra Head and took the plants to the garden. The Cobra Head was able to dig in and around the gravel, and with that and the trowel I quickly dug holes for the daisies and the aster. As I opened the earth with the Cobra Head, however, I would occasionally hit a rock and sparks would fly. Fire in the garden.

Sparks flying makes me think of starting something that spreads like fire… in this case, plants that grow in gravel. Beyond my garden the sparks make me think of what I want to spread as a garden writer and speaker. I intend sparks to fly when I talk to an audience, and usually they do… occasionally they don’t. But I keep perfecting my talks because I want my interest in plants and gardening to spread like wild fire.

In the garden this morning I wouldn’t have made sparks fly without some work on my part. This reminds me once again that the good stuff – beautiful gardens, effective speaking, marriage, children, friends, satisfying work, a fulfilling spiritual life – all of these take effort. That’s OK with me…I’m willing to work to make sparks fly, to create a beautiful gravel garden, and I’m willing to work on making gardening a prayer.

My gravel path where I want self-seeders to grow.

My gravel path where I want self-seeders to grow.

[caption id="attachment_34" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="It took my Fiskers Trowel and a Cobra Head to plant these in gravel"]It took my Fiskers Trowel and a Cobra Head to plant these in gravel[/caption]
Verbascum is already loving it at the top of the gravel near the stone wall.

Verbascum is already loving it at the top of the gravel near the stone wall.

2 Responses to “Sparks Fly”

  1. 1

    Hi C.L.,

    “Gardening in gravel,” hmmm, you just gave me an idea for another article for my weekly gardening column. Thanks. I write for a small-town newspaper: http://www.alliednews.com/community/local_story_164135140.html

    I have a Cobra head, use it lots. How’d you re-sharpen yours after making sparks fly? ;~)

  2. 2
    CL Fornari:

    Hey, TC. Glad to provide topic suggestions. I would suggest to anyone planting in gravel that they choose things that self-seed well in rocky soil. Planting in this type of terrain is tough, so if you can find plants that will do it themselves, like the Leucanthemum vulgare I was planting, there will be less work for the gardener.

    I haven’t had to sharpen the Cobra Head yet. It’s taken my rock pounding in stride…so far!