You know you’re beginning to be a real gardener when your kids become convinced you’re crazy. “No, Mom, No! No more branches!” they shriek as I slow down on a side street, looking over tree trimmings left for brush and bulky waste pick up.
“You are out of your mind, Paul!” [Festus] shouted. “Your great learning is driving your insane.” Acts 26:24
What can I say? Branches piled curbside beckon me. They seem like such a resource, appealing to my rustic aesthetic. They serve in the short run as edging to the new garden beds I form from the lawn, and as they deteriorate, they add organic matter to our clumpy, clay soils.
My creative whims overtake me sometimes; I sow seeds in my existing beds, spaced as recommended, and then have so many left over. I suppose seeds are packaged for those of you with acres to fill; suburbanite gardeners, however, or those on the square foot plan, will have many more seeds than a garden bed needs…unless we add more beds! Branches on hand make this “increase-multiply-fill” mantra more manageable, saving a trip to the store for edging materials.
Branches also make great trellises for climbing cucumbers or swaying basil, steadying vertical growth in the garden.
A few ready extras can also decorate a Halloween entryway this week.
Bring Back Branches
Is it God’s Word at work in my heart that has grown my affection for branches and caused me to stop at neighboring tree-trimming piles? After all, branches mark marvelous moments across the Bible. The Israelites were called to celebrate the great joy of the Festival of Tabernacles by going out the countryside to gather branches.
“Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written. Nehemiah 8:15 NIV
God’s people created temporary shelters, or tabernacles, out of their branches, recounting the story of their ancestors who lived temporarily in the Sinai Desert, reflecting the grander truth of living on earth temporarily until the forever home of heaven.
The Righteous Branch
Waving branches welcomed Christ to Jerusalem, accompanied by a glorious chorus of “Hosanna!” for the king who came to save.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:13 NIV
This triumphal entry builds on the LORD’s words to Jeremiah, poetically proclaiming his sheltering canopy of wisdom and justice as a righteous Branch:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior. Jeremiah 23:5-6 NIV
A common, curbside pile of branches, or a call to praise? A handy garden practice, to repurpose branches in trellises, edging, and decoration….or a Hosanna! to the One who has come in the name of the Lord? Call me crazy, but gardening with God’s Word compels us to praise Him in everything!
Photo Credits: All photos ©2014 Shelley S. Cramm