Little by Little

little deja bloom azalea flowers

Let us ponder one of the most precious and important gifts of the garden life: Delighting in little things. A new bloom, a tenacious tendril, a flush of exquisite color—little occurrences as garden plants grow throughout the seasons seem big and exciting in the time frame of a morning glimpse or evening stroll.

For me, and likely for you, dear gardener, it is a calm and satisfying effect to venture out, even for a brief tour, noticing small flourishes and being captivated by subtle wonder. Tending and keeping a garden gives us the practice and perspective of cherishing incremental beauty.

Little by Little

little deja bloom azalea flowers

Sweet delight in re-blooming azaleas! Successive blooms are the grower’s promise, but their timing always surprises me. So fun to come around the corner and see bright color already appearing, a signal to the coming fall.

But don’t leave this happy habit in the garden! It is a vital practice, for the LORD validates small yet progressive movements. Our works in Him, although established by His appointment and purpose, will happen according to an understated, unpretentious unfolding.

I will drive them out before you little by little, until you have increased and are strong enough to take possession of the land.
Exodus 23:30 AMP

little cucumber tendrils

Such delight in cucumber vine tendrils! They amaze me with their seeking and veering towards structure—any structure. Too funny to see them outstretched toward trellis, cornstalk, neighboring branch …finding strength, coiling, gripping, securing the way for the vine to advance.

While we know the LORD to be all-powerful, almighty…able to bloom bare branches with flowers and fruit in a single display—

The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.
Numbers 17:8 NIV

—this is not His typical pace for our daily progress. He restrains His power, not tempted by immediate gratification, knowing we must be strengthened and prepared to take hold of abounding goodness little by little. Jesus solidified this approach by acknowledging simple yet steadfast accomplishments in a stewardship story:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:21, 23 AMP

Take Delight

little color holly hedge

How delightful to see new growth, gentle new leaves on herbs or shrubs. They emerge usually in a hue slightly lighter, brighter or more freshly intense than the mature leaves, giving visual playfulness and interest such that no shrub is monochromatic or dull for very long.

Struggling with a small step? To persevere in the prep-work, to succeed in strength-training, we must cultivate an eye for the incremental; learn to be soothed and nourished by perceiving slight strides in the right direction. Little by little, we will get there, wherever it is our heart’s desire is leading.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NIV

Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for giving me a garden—even a small pot on a window sill will do. Cultivate in me the ability to relax in a small-measured pace. May I learn to enjoy subtle growth, activity, and flourish, learning to be patient with your process. Let me trust you are establishing good territory (Exodus 23:31), a place where I will thrive, a place of blessing for my family and community.


Photo Credits: ©2017 Shelley S. Cramm

Many thanks to J. Berry Nursery for the chance to test Deja Bloom ‘Red Tiara’ — still blooming and beautiful! See the story of their installation in A Glory of Lebanon Garden, published 2014.

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