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“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.”    Alfred Austin

My little garden grows not so well right now.  What I found charming just a few days back — a gorgeous English rose playing footsies with a beautiful mound of sage while fighting off the lecherous advances of the robust tomato plant weaving through its canes — was in reality garden disease 101 waiting to crawl off the pages of any gardening textbook. 

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BEFORE

I knew this, of course.  Last year’s gardening classes taught me that plants need some breathing room to thrive.  But it’s easy to have more plants than space on my small Mesta Park lot.  So forsaking the hard gardening facts of life  for the cottage garden look I adore only proves that — unlike Albert Einstein’s take on God — I do play dice with the world.   

But then God sent the rains.  And while ever so welcomed, the rain left behind damp rose leaves and the humid conditions that ignited my little garden laboratory into an outbreak of Diplocarpon rosae fungus.  And this morning’s routine stroll through the garden with water hose in hand revealed a sprinkling of yellow and black-spotted leaves on my Christopher Marlowe rose.      

Black Spot disease can kill roses without treatment.  And while the best prevention is buying disease resistant varieties, like the hardier antique roses and Knock-Out Roses that play monopoly all over my garden, nothing says ‘cottage garden’ quite like a lovely English Rose.  

Normally, I treat the diseased rose with a fungicide spray;  and Bayer Advanced Control Disease is a favorite of gardeners.  But since this product isn’t labeled for use around vegetables, I’m gambling that I can beat the disease without relying on chemo treatments by creating space and removing evidence of disease.  

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AFTER

First, to tame the shrew of a tomato plant, I removed all the heavy fruited branches growing around the rose bush.   Focusing next on the rose bush, I cut away both diseased canes and leaves.  Then, I cleaned all diseased leaves laying around the plant’s base.  And now Chris can breathe again.  And I’m hoping all that fresh air will restore the rose to health.  But if not, I’ll come back and give the rose a shot of Ortho’s Garden Disease Control, a fungicide labeled for tomatoes.  

So that’s the latest on my garden.  Now for the latest on the gardener.  That old coot — English Poet Laureate, Alfred Austin — is right about my life being as overcrowded as my garden.  Busyness has a way of sneeking upon me, and all my fine progress in quieting my life has been put into reverse over the summer.  The class I began, the curriculum I’m writing, my spiritual direction and master gardening commitments but most of all the bi-weekly visits with Daddy. 

So even before I knew what gifts today would bring, I longed for room to breathe.  And I found it by giving myself permission to not make the usual trip to visit Daddy, then choosing to not spend the gift of time on anything that remotely looked like work.  Quite contrary to my usual crowded Saturday, today was about the grace of space.  And now, both Chris and I are breathing a little easier .

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