Getting a Second Chance

Ah the joys of fall weather!  My initial reaction on making it through a hot summer to a cooler and softer fall is profound relief. As a child, summer held vacations, frequent visits to the public library, and a break from school routine. Now it brings sunscreen, overheated cars, and an almost pathological need for a cool drink to be close at hand. Fall, on the other hand has always seemed to me like a great time to start again – even getting a second chance to get some things right. This is never more true than in the garden.

This morning I decided it was time to tackle what I viewed as a minor problem with my backyard garden. Well, it seemed minor at first but one thing led to another and I was soon faced with a series of transplants. The initial problem was a rosemary bush that had to be taken out. After several years growing there, the plant had suffered some sort of major damage that killed about 80% of the plant. There was nothing left to do but dig it up. Simple, right?

As I got out there with my gloves and a shovel, I discovered that my prostrate winter savory had moved to the base of the rosemary. I say “moved” because it had somehow been crowded out from its original position in the front of the garden bed and was hugging the rosemary in desperation. The reason for the moving savory was a flourishing sweet marjoram plant. That brought to mind the fact that I was nearly out of dried marjoram for the kitchen and this was an ideal time to harvest. Clipping the sweet marjoram would give some room back to the prostrate winter savory but not enough. So I decided that some of the bearded iris’ to the left of where the prostrate winter savory would go needed to be moved even further left, thus slightly expanding the bearded iris section. But that would crowd the oregano further down the garden bed, which had been too aggressive in overpowering its neighbors anyway. Are you confused yet?

So in order to take out the mostly dead rosemary I 1) reduced and shifted the oregano to a better position, 2) trimmed and moved some of my bearded iris’, 3) clipped back the sweet marjoram and placed the clippings in a bowl for drying later, 4) dug up the failing rosemary and the prostrate winter savory around the base, and finally 5) replanted the prostrate winter savory back where it should have been in the first place. Everything but the dead rosemary was now in a better place and had a fighting chance to thrive next spring.

Now it’s time for me to confess what really precipitated all this moving. Remember I mentioned that the rosemary had unaccountably died this summer? As I dug up the roots I discovered why. When I had placed my soaker hose in the garden last spring I had wound the hose right next to the base of the rosemary bush. This was very evident when I dug the plant up as the roots had completely surrounded the hose and had to be clipped away to free it. Rosemary does not like having wet roots. I had killed my rosemary in the heat of summer by giving it too much water. Aaah!

After I stopped grumbling at myself, I cleaned up the debris, put away my tools, and set a sprinkler on the newly transplanted herbs to get them settled. Looking at the finished bed of herbs, I am thankful that second chances do come along. Sometimes I think my life is like that herb bed. One minor error causes a problem that creates a second problem and eventually you’ve got an avalanche of trouble coming down around your ears.

That’s what happened to me this year. Several problems that were individually manageable crowded into my life all at once and sent me running for cover. It was almost more than I could stand. So I did two things. First I prayed mightily for wisdom and understanding. Then I sat down and made a list. I’m not telling you what was on that list but I will say it helped me to define the problems I was facing and what I could (or could not) do about them…just as I had done with the unbalanced herb garden bed.  Some of my problems have been resolved, some have moved on, and some will be with me for a long time. Looking forward to fall and beyond I know I’ll have a second chance to deal with them. Thank God for that.


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