Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 24, 2009


I cannot explain why but I do love a garden


      No one has ever confused me with a Master Gardener. Actually I do not even know a Master Gardener. I have never studied gardening. No Garden Club has ever invited me to join, but I do love a garden.

          One of my recurring dreams is that the Auburn Extension Service sends a crew to my home one morning. The county agent leading the team greets me at the front door announcing with a smile, “We have come to give you a crash course in gardening.” Then they spend all day in my garden, teaching me all the things I wish I knew.

          Having studied the Bible all my life I should not be surprised by my abiding interest in gardening. There are fruit trees in the first and last chapters of the Bible. The prophets speak of the Lord’s power to make a garden in the desert. Jesus talks about recognizing the character of people “by their fruits.” John says that in heaven the tree of life will yield fruit constantly, not seasonally as on earth.

          So guess what. In my backyard you will find fig trees, apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, blueberry bushes, and blackberry vines. Though none of them will ever be pictured in Southern Homes and Gardens, they are alive and growing. The recent rains may be more responsible for their growth than anything I have done to help them.

          For three years I have been hoping for a good harvest of blueberries and once again I have hope. Last year I picked barely enough to decorate a bowl of cereal. My friend Jeff, whose blueberry bushes are flourishing, keeps telling me to be patient. But at my age that is a challenge.

          The abundant rain, and some fertilizer, has made our vegetable garden come alive. Beautiful is the best word to describe our tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, squash, onions, collards, and strawberries. Now the fight is on as we battle the birds, insects, and weeds. A good harvest does not come easy.

          Our front yard has been a delight this spring. Two Gardenia plants have grown a foot taller. Their dark green leaves provide a striking background for the fragrant creamy-white flowers. Nearby the Knockout Roses are blooming like crazy. Traditional roses require a lot of maintenance but these Knockout Roses seem to thrive without much care. We began with two plants last year but now have six that brighten up the yard.

          Last week we planted a “Lynwood Gold” Forsythia bush along the driveway. Tim and Karen gave the tree to his mother on Mother’s Day. Its bright yellow flowers will be a welcome addition to the white, red, and pink colors of the Gardenias and Knockout Roses. We have always enjoyed the Forsythia.

          We lost our Japanese Maple Tree. I noticed last year that it seemed to be dying and now it is gone. It was about ten years old but had never seemed to flourish. Perhaps our sandy soil was not the right mix for it.

          It seems out of place in our front yard but our Muscadine arbor has been a fixture there for 25 years. Its luscious grapes become delicious jelly in the expert hands of Coralie and John. We grow ‘em; they pick ‘em. Last year the vines yielded ten gallons of grapes, enough for more than 100 jars of jelly.

          Now and then someone tells me that my Muscadine vines are actually Scuppernong vines. I resolved the dispute by choosing to believe that Scuppernongs is just another name for Muscadines. Perhaps the Auburn Extension Service team can settle this issue when they come spend a day in my garden. + + +