Article of the week: Messages from marigolds
8 May 2021
Enabled member Annmarie Batty shares thoughts that blossomed while reflecting on the flowers in her garden
WHEN my son was small he liked two kinds of flowers: snapdragons, which he loved to watch bees enter, and marigolds. Marigolds were his favourite. He loved their colour and cheerfulness, and they reminded him of his local football team, Hull City.
I could grow snapdragons easily, but when I put marigolds into the ground I found out my son was not the only one who loved them: so did the slugs and snails. Whether they were African marigolds or French marigolds, I was left with just a few green stalks and some well-fed pests.
I couldn’t find a way to deal with my hungry pest problem organically, other than grow fewer palatable plants, which meant a marigold-less garden. But still I wished I could grow marigolds.
Then one year I went to the Enabled Summer School at National Star College near Cheltenham. The flower beds were glorious. One circular display was a mass of marigolds. The presence of slugs and snails was evident when it rained, but these plants were thriving.
I spoke to one of the gardeners, and he told me to grow English marigolds – Calendula officinalis, known as pot marigolds. So that’s what I did for the rest of the summer, and I had glorious, bright blooms.
When winter came I appeared to lose all my plants but, determined to have marigolds again, I bought a packet of seeds and sowed them in a window box. I would look after them and nurse them, and perhaps be more successful.
The seeds grew, and I ended up with a window box full of various shades of marigolds. But I also had marigolds growing where the previous plants had been. And marigolds in my strawberry patch. And in my ornamental tub.
During the summer their bright orange flowers greeted me in the garden and spoke to me of so much. They reminded me of my son, who has had to socially distance himself from me while I have had health problems.
They reminded me of the wonders of creation, and the skill and artistry of our heavenly Father. ‘Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers’ (Matthew 6:28 and 29 Good News Bible).
They also made me aware that, although they grow in my garden, and even though I do the watering and the weeding, I am not the one in control. The sun and rain are sent by my heavenly Father, and only he knows where the wind is blowing the scattering seed. ‘You are my Lord; all the good things I have come from you… You give me all I need; my future is in your hands’ (Psalm 16: 2 and 5 GNB).
The marigolds also spoke to me of hope, because my son’s favourite flowers remind me of another son. ‘He is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. He reflects the brightness of God’s glory and is the exact likeness of God’s own being, sustaining the universe with his powerful word. After achieving forgiveness for human sins, he sat down in Heaven at the right-hand side of God, the Supreme Power’ (Hebrews 1:2 and 3 GNB).
Even a bad patch of soil may be hiding seeds that will in the fullness of time germinate, grow and bloom. Jesus told a parable about that:
‘The Kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed in his field. He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit; first the tender stalk appears, then the ear, and finally the ear full of corn’ (Mark 4:26–28 GNB).
In these uncertain days, we need to focus on what is important. A marigold’s job is to bloom then make seeds, thus revealing its Creator’s glory. Our job is to further the Kingdom of God. The gardener at the college showed me how to grow marigolds. We can reveal to people our loving Saviour. Perhaps we should do that more often.
ANNMARIE SOLDIERS AT HULL ICEHOUSE