Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dandelions nettles and daisies


Three years ago I had reason to visit an allotment.

What is that? I hear some of you ask.

It’s a system peculiar to Great Britain whereby the Local Government Authorities (Local Councils) rent a small piece of land to anyone on which to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

The piece of land is called an “allotment” and these are usually situated in the middle of towns and cities all over the UK. The land has been earmarked for such use and (hopefully) will never be built upon.

The practice, I understand, started in the Second World War when food was scarce and to encourage people to “dig for Britain” and grow their own food.

Anyway … at this allotment I met an old man whom I’ve never met before. I don’t know why, but usually complete strangers feel at ease to talk to me and tell me their life stories. So I listened.

He said he’d had that allotment for about ten years or so. His piece of land was about 20 metres by 10 metres or so. On it he had gooseberries, black currants, red currants, rhubarb, a small vine, a fig tree, spinach, cabbage, parsnips, runner beans, marrows, courgettes, and a variety of herbs and other vegetables too numerous to remember.

He complained that since he injured his hand in an accident cutting the tendons he found it difficult to grip and uproot the weeds in his allotment. But his children and grand-children helped him toil the land.

In conversation he let slip that he was 82 years old.

I silently prayed for him and wished I was as fit as him if I ever were to be his age.

He then added: Never, ever give up. No matter how hard it is, how difficult it is, or how tired you are: don’t give up. If you do give up, the weeds will soon take over your allotment and all your hard work will go to waste. And you have to start all over again.

I left him with those words ringing in my ears. A complete stranger with a message which can be adapted to our Christian walk.

Never, ever give up. Or the weeds (sin) will soon take over your life and all your hard work will go to waste.

That night I said a prayer for that old gentleman with a salutary message.

A few days later it was another beautiful, warm and sunny day. I spent sometime in the garden pruning the bushes.

Half an hour after I started a friend came to visit. I must explain that I’ve left a corner of the garden to grow freely. My friend looked at it and said: “these are all weeds … they must come out …”

I pointed at the little yellow and blue flowers and said they looked pretty; and they attracted butterflies and other insects.

My friend said: “They’re weeds. You’ve dandelions there, and nettles and …” naming a variety of plants I hadn’t even heard of.

What is a weed I thought, isn’t it a plant that you don’t want? There are people who make nettle tea – you can buy it at the health shop. I suppose to them a nettle is not a weed but a livelihood. I also read somewhere that dandelions are used in medicine.

Then I thought … I hope God is more selective when He comes to judge us and to choose whom from His creations are worthy to enter Heaven.

Will He say disparagingly: “You’re a weed” – or will He welcome us in His Kingdom?

11 comments:

  1. Gosh, Victor, you've got me really thinking! So, a weed is something that hinders the development of worthwhile 'fruit.' And, the more fruit there is, the more careful one needs to be of weeds and the more likely it is that, if something isn't a fruit, it is a weed. And, if there's not much fruit, then the weeds are less of an issue and, maybe, less noticeable. And, if a weed is a weed in one garden and a flower in another, is there a final authority on weedship? Of course, it could always be relative, but it's not likely because, ultimately, there's always an absolute standard on which to base a judgement. But, just because something's judged a weed, is it condemned? In a barren wasteland, would a weed be tolerated more than in a cultivated garden? Or, would the nature of the environment be the cause of its condemnation? Lots to ponder!

    Hmm.. I'd better finish musing before I give hint of an innate madness;-)

    God bless, Victor:-)

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  2. What you say makes a lot of sense; Vicky.

    Basically a plant, say a dandelion, is a weed if it is not wanted and hinders the growth of some other plant by taking the nutrition from the ground or by being aesthetically unwelcome. For example a dandelion on a beautiful immaculate lawn.

    But, as in my garden, I have deliberately left an area to grow wild with nettles and other traditionally unwelcome plants like thisles and dandelions. These attract various insects and in turn various birds which feed on these insects. So, in that particular area a nettle is not a weed, because I welcome it there.

    However, if someone put a nettle down my trousers then it would be very unwelcome indeed; and it would then become a weed. The weed would then create a rash in that particular area which would in turn itch and become even more unwelcome.

    So the moral of this story is: there's a place for everything and everything in its place - and never put a nettle down your trousers especially if you've run out of soothing lotion.

    God bless.

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  3. True, but you need to be aware of weeds disguising themselves as flowers. Some of the beautiful birds in our garden provide nothing more than empty aesthetic pleasures. They may eat the insects but they are also voracious consumers of all the best fruit. It could be the same with the insects. Bees are good but fruit fly is bad - just another evil attacker of all that is good in the garden.

    I guess you really have to know the difference between a true flower and a weed, don't you? And true goodness and beauty as opposed to worthless, empty pleasures with a superficial, manipulative kind of beauty.

    Maybe, a second moral could be that a bit of knowledge may be the difference between feasting on the sumptuous fruits of the garden and eating nettles??

    God bless:-)

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  4. Good points Vicky.

    We often have "bad " insects like wasps in our garden. We had some earlier this year in Spring. You've reminded me to write a post about them - maybe tomorrow.

    I'm not doing too well with fruits this year. It's been raining all the time. Last year we had plenty of apples, pears, strawberries and cherries. Also many tomatoes. We made plenty of steamed apples with raisins and sultanas, apple pies, and apple with everything. Three years ago we even managed to have figs. But those trees suddenly stopped producing. Can't understand why. Also never managed to get any grapes from the vines. Just plenty of leaves. Have you ever had stuffed vine leaves? We also had a well-producing peach tree. Suddenly it died.

    We never managed to get any oranges though. Probably because we don't have an orange tree in our garden.

    God bless.

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  5. Great post, Victor - I love the "never give up" message. My daughter doesn't differentiate between real flowers and weed flowers. I used to get handfuls of dandelions from her all the time :) The leaves are edible! Not that I eat wild ones but I have eaten dandelion greens before and probably will again.

    This is the first year we've had a garden and I planted a number of fruits and vegetables. We only got three strawberries! I think the bears stole the rest. Animals don't like beans for some odd reason.

    I think I may be able to guess why :) They don't like radishes and scallions either.

    I'm sorry to hear that your invisible orange tree failed to produce any fruit...

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  6. Wasn't that old man good with the "Don't give up" message, Mary?

    I've never eaten dandelion or nettles leaves. I've had nettles tea which was awful.

    I hope you're successful with your garden. It's so satisfying when you grow your own produce. I've never tried growing beans - perhaps next year. This year has been too wet so far with almost daily rain. I'm building an ark in the garden just in case.

    I think the UK is too cold for orange trees. So I haven't bothered to grow one.

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  7. It's so nice Mary when children pick up and give us a bouquet of daisies dandelions and buttercups.

    May God bless them for their good intentions.

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  8. Victor, I'd rather be a dandelion in God's garden than a rose bush in my own.

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  9. What a beautiful thing to say Barb.

    God bless.

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  10. I like your view of weeds, literally and figuratively. We have something in our garden that looks like a weed; we certainly didn't plant it. But it has lovely violet flowers and we don't want to uproot it.

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  11. Thank you Sarah for your kind words.

    Is the plant in your garden a thistle perhaps? From our own Scotland up North? Post a photo on your Blog and perhaps readers can identify it.

    God bless.

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