The Rock Garden

(Or, How a two-hour garden project turned into a three-week course in perseverance)

So my husband and I moved into our first house this past fall, and one of the things I was most excited for this spring was having my very own garden! After years of living in a north-facing apartment that wasn’t conducive to growing anything but mold in the shower (hey, I’m a better housekeeper than that!), we moved into a west-facing corner lot home with two large trees in the front yard, a large cedar tree on the side, and  another tree in back.

There’s only one problem with our yard: rocks. And lots of them.

See, the previous owner apparently didn’t love yard work, so his solution was to dump river rock all around the trees and bushes. We’re talking three to six inch long rocks all over.

However, there is a small, two foot by five foot area right next to the front door that I thought would be perfect for a small flower garden. So, a few Saturdays ago, my husband and I picked up some tulip and daffodil bulbs, some violas, some small gardening tools, and set to work around 11 in the morning.

After the first round of removing the smaller rocks and gravel.
After the first round of removing the smaller rocks and gravel.

I figured this would be a two-hour job: all we had to do is clear out the river rock, hoe up the soil a bit, and plant our flowers. Piece of cake.

Oh, how innocent I was back then.

The removal of the river rock took us about a half hour. Easy. Unfortunately, under the river rock, we discovered a layer of landscaping mesh. An hour later, we managed to pull out the landscaping mesh, only to find something even worse:


Apparently, the previous owners of our home not only hated to mow, they also hated the idea of future owners wanting flower beds. One- to two-inch rocks and gravel were embedded in the soil, as numerous as the leaves on the tree above our heads.

Deck flowers
My flowers thriving on the deck.

We started digging out rocks as best as we could, using our hands, spades, hoes, anything we could think of. My husband even built a wooden sieve so we could sift the rocks out of the soil.

By 4 p.m., we were beat. And we still had a lot of rocks to go.

Since then, we’ve made some progress. We’ve had a lot of rain, making it difficult to work outside, but every few days we’ll head out in the evening and spend an hour or so picking out rocks, listening to music, meeting our new neighbors, and silently (sometimes not so silently as well!) cursing these innumerable rocks. We’ve hauled out about 20 gallons so far.

We’re still not done, but hey, it’s all in the journey, right? On the plus side, I potted the bulbs and violas, and have a beautiful deck garden going right now.

There’s always next year, right?


Don’t forget about the giveaway!

Every time you leave a comment during the next two weeks, you will be entered to win a copy of As Love Blooms. The name will be drawn by on Saturday at midnight, central time, and the winner’s name will then be posted on our blog on Sunday. (Continental U.S. residents only.)


A Lesson in Perseverance from LOTR

When Frodo began his journey in The Fellowship of the Ring, it was a journey he never would have anticipated taking, one he fought against traveling. Yet he went, and he was thrust from his quiet, safe world into a world of adventure and danger.

He and the fellowship traveling alongside him fought against orks and ring wraiths and giant spiders and mountains and fire and Smeagol and more! Many times Frodo wanted to give up, but he kept pressing on. Perhaps the greatest obstacle he faced was the temptation of putting on the ring, a ring that would make him invisible. How easily he could slip past the enemies with it on! But the ring that could have saved him, also attracted evil. In spite of it all, he kept moving forward. And through it all, he was never alone.

Throughout our lives each of us has likely ventured out on an unknown and unplanned journey, down a road we never intended to take. Maybe it’s family changes: a death, divorce, unplanned pregnancy. Or maybe it’s career changes with layoffs or difficult co-workers. For writers, some have found success with little effort, while others fight for every inch gained.

Life is seldom easy, but worthwhile journeys rarely travel straight, paved roads. And when we set our eyes on the goal God set for us, we’ll never be alone.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12 – 14