Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Special Day in the Garden

My staff and I share early morning devotions (Angie stands inthe doorway!)

My garden in 2002 before I started to clear it

The earth was an empty formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. (Genesis 1:2)
My garden on the morning of the Garden Club meeting

My regular readers notice that my blog is primarily a gardening blog, with snippets of animal (pet) stories thrown in. I also post about life in South Africa (where I live), West Africa (where my husband and I lived), and North Africa (where my husband lives and works now). In between I post outdoor scenes, family stories, recipes and about my faith.

On Wednesday 6th May the local Garden Club meeting was held in my garden. The build–up to this was three months of preparation and planning. Originally it was all plain sailing. After a beautiful rain soaked summer, my garden was lush and everything grew profusely. The weather was mild albeit cooling down considerably.

My three gardeners (Simon, John and David) guided the cars onto the sidewalk parking area;a job which they took very seriously and emjoyed thoroughly
The lingerie exibitor made good use of the tree!
More than 30 ladies attended the meeting in my garden
My friend Betty demonstrates how to propogate roses and perenial basil.

Normally the hostess only has to supply the venue. In my case, I was asked to be the main speaker and I had to organise the entire meeting. I was given a list of five ladies’ names and I asked one to do the devotions which open the meeting. I also asked her and the other four ladies to bring a plate of snacks for tea afterwards. I asked my friend, Betty to demonstrate how to propagate slips of climbing roses and perennial basil.

I shared my testimony and various aspects of gardening with the ladies

Wednesday dawned bright and clear and unseasonably hot. My gardeners, John and David with the help of Simon, had worked alongside me over the past months to ensure that the garden was presentable. Well, not only was it presentable, it was beautiful. At 8 o’clock Emily, the gardeners and I sat around the dining table and had our daily devotions. We thanked and praised God for the beautiful day after the unexpected rain of the previous day. Then Emily continued with the household chores while the men did a final check-over of the garden.

At 9, after they’d enjoyed their breakfast under the trees, the men donned their new white [gardening] gloves and took up positions in the street. I’d asked them to show the ladies as they arrived where to park their vehicles. They did this job exceptionally well, even helping an eighty-two year-old friend of mine through the gate and over the cobblestone path to my garden. (This, in itself, is very unusual for old-fashioned African men. They are not at all solicitious towards women.)

By 9h50 the ladies had all arrived. They stood around chatting, looking at the various displays or walked around my garden. The meeting began at 10. My friend opened the meeting with a Scripture reading and prayer after which the chairlady welcomed everyone present. After a brief overview of the last meeting, she handing the proceedings over to me. Beautiful handmade candles on display

I called Betty to come and do her demonstration which was most interesting and informative. Then it was my turn to address the ladies. I started my garden from an overgrown field (you can read about this here). I had photos of my “before” garden on the house wall behind the ladies and invited them to look afterwards. I explained how I began to clear the ground in October 2002 and for the next fifteen months I cleared and planted (mostly indigenous) trees and shrubs. I also began a large bed of water-wise perennials: Aloe spp, Gerbera jamesonii, (Barberton daisies), Cotelydon orbiculata (Pig’s ears) and various succulents.

In February 2004 I flew up to Guinea, West Africa to visit my husband for a three week holiday. I landed a job with the gold mine client and stayed for three years!

When I arrived back in July 2006, I employed John and we began to garden again in earnest. At the same time, I recommitted my life to God through my Saviour, Jesus.

The ladies browse the jewellry and socialise over a cuppa

I employed a second gardener and even though they worked very well, they had a very big drinking problem. They’d arrive at work still under the influence of alcohol or heavily hung-over. I tore my hair out. At first I spoke nicely to them about it; eventually I threatened to pay them off if this behaviour continued.

One day I asked God what I should do about this problem and He told me to stop whipping them (with my tongue) He said: “Tell them about Me, Jo.” I bought them each a Bible in SeSotho (one of the eleven official languages in South Africa and their mother tongue) and I asked them to bring them to work every day. Each morning before work, we all sit together and John reads a passage from his Bible. I have my English Bible and Sesotho Bible open on the same page so I can follow. Emily prays for us and we all get on with the day.

After the meeting the ladies meandered through my garden

Just as I thought I was doing the right thing by my staff, God let me know again that the Gospel is two-sided. It’s no use praying with people yet they’re hungry, unkempt and underpaid. I began to pay them a decent wage, fed them properly and bought over-alls for them to wear. We have enclosed ablution facilities at the back of the garages but the men were not using it. My husband bought a gas geyser, so they now have hot water. I supply them with toiletries and towels and the men shower every afternoon before they go home. The difference in their attitude was immediately apparent. Suddenly they had a spring in their step and I could see that they felt good about themselves. My two gardeners respectively live in a tin shack with a naked electric bulb suspended from the ceiling. They have no indoor plumbing. Many township inhabitants live under these conditions. Emily has a brick and tile house which she bought which she bought with money from her late husband’s estate. Last year my husband contracted a builder to install a shower with a hot-water geyser in her house so she, her daughter and her two young grandsons will have hot showers this winter.

I exibited a poster depicting photos of my garden as it was before and of birds and other wildlife (including a hedgehog) in my garden

Diadem (male) on Cosmos. Butterflies are plentiful in my insecticide-free garden
Above is a beautiful poster I received in my monthly birding magazine and which I displayed on the wall above the tea table
I listed the birds in my garden and during my talk, I gave tips, planting to encourage birds, how to recycle waste, make your own compost and save electricity

I told the ladies how I made my own compost and had a plastic dish of dark, crumbly fertilizer to show them. I explained about recycling and how to save electricity as well as how to plant to encourage wildlife such as butterflies, bees, birds and small mammals to the garden.

This Hadeda Ibis is just one of the many birds that visits my garden

I shared all this and more in my talk.

Afterwards, the ladies had tea and cake, walked around the garden with me asked questions about various plants and especially about my ponds. Many took home young shrubs and slips and asked if they could bring their husbands, sisters, mothers, cousins to see my garden at a later date.

My day was a resounding success.

To God be the glory.

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  1. What a beautiful contribution. I love how you and your staff "break bread" together and I envy the bird life in your garden. What I wouldn't do to hear the hadeda every morning & night again ....

  2. what you really did is quite admirable and commendable especially to those people. I can imagine them as gardens too. Raw, unattended but with patience and constant care, they bloomed under your care and can now spread their wings and give happiness to others. God bless you.

    My world is here

  3. Hi Baruch;) yes, it makes the day when we break bread together (you've actually reminded me - I need to do this with them as well!) The birds in my garden are such a delight. I have eight cats but they are too well fed/lazy to catch birds, thank goodness. Thanks for popping in.

    Marites ;) Welcome to my blog! Thank you for your kind comments. I cannot live without God and it is my mission to share Him with all around me. I'll pop into your blog now.

  4. Excellent Myworld contribution, I really enjoyed visiting your blog.

    Have a great week!
    Regina In Pictures

  5. I loved your post - and your beautiful garden!

  6. your garden club meeting was wonderful and the fruits of your labor and your workers made it all the more so. enjoyed your commentary and lovely photographs.
    have a blessed week.

  7. GuyD;) Thanks for visiting and for the kind comments.

    Hi Regina;) thanks for popping in

    ladyfi;) Welcome to my blog! Thanks for the kind comments

    Hi itsnotjustapicture;)thanks for popping in again and your kind comments.

  8. Jo, I love what you've done with your garden and I enjoy reading all your thoughts on life. You asked me by the way if we're having Sheba sprayed: the answer is no, since we'll want to have puppies from her some time later on. Finding good guard dogs is very hard in these parts of West Africa and our stock (the males formerly known as "the puppies") are getting old. We've never sprayed nor neutered our dogs, but simply kept them safe during "heat" season which thankfully doesn't last forever.

    Warm greetings from Zinder!

  9. Gardening is the best therapy known to man or beast, to transform a bare space into natures half acre is worthy of the sore back and knees and broken fingernails...apart from that you sleep well after a good day in the garden.

  10. Jo, both your garden and the workers have bloomed from your loving care. A wonderful post!

  11. Hi Esther, thanks for your kind comments. And the explanation re Sheba's spaying. She will have wonderful puppies. You need that type of guard dog around. (((Hugs))) from South Africa

    Hi Arija ;) you are so right. There is nothing like gardening. There is a special kind of "tiredness" after a hard day tending the soil. Thanks for popping in.

    Hi Dedene ;)Thanks for your kind comments. I've been without Internet for the past 26 hours and trying to catch up on my blog and other visits. (((Hugs)))

  12. Jo, your garden is beautiful. You obviously spend a lot of time keeping it that way. I really like the picture of the ibis.

    I also love the story of how you not only share the gospel with your staff, but help meet their needs and make their lives more comfortable.
    God bless you!

  13. Hi Clara;) welcome to my blog. Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, it's no use "preaching" to others yet you only look after yourself. Do you get Ibis' where you are? (I'm popping onto your blog shortly)This lovely chap is one of a pair, and they peck around where the cats are lolling in the garden. Amazing.

  14. Hi Jo this is really wonderful post. And you look so gorgeous.:)
    To God be the glory.

  15. Thanks Regina:) for your kind comments. Aye, and Amen: to God be the Glory. How does anyone operate or even LIVE without Him and His precious Son, Jesus? (((Hugs)))

  16. I just happened upon this post today, Jo - looks like you had a wonderful day ... you went to so much effort and as you say, the day was a resounding success. How wonderful for your staff that they are treated so well. I also think you looked lovely in your black and white striped top and black trousers. Wish I could've been there to enjoy the day with you & see your beautiful garden for myself ....

  17. I would agree with you that it was a resounding success. I was also very interested in reading how God spoke to you about how to deal with your staff. God is so good and He loves each and every one of his creations. I'm sure His heart is warmed when we show love to one another.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo