To everything there is a season.

As a gardener, I am more often than not a little sad when the cooler months of autumn appear. My garden begins to slow down in preparation for its winter rest.

The evidence is everywhere. The hostas have retreated, my African fern is beginning to turn brown, our annuals have stopped blooming, and my roses are putting out their final blooms of the year. As I look back on this gardening year, I find myself thankful for many little blessings. So many things come to mind. My wife and I have little time together these days, and our early mornings in the garden, sipping coffee and chatting, are a precious gift that I have come to cherish. This year has brought my son out into the garden, mostly to help with the weeding effort that comes with cultivating over 80 rose bushes. He has been a tremendous help to us and I am seeing a glimmer of interest in horticulture from him. This is quite a feat in a world of video games, text messaging and hanging with friends; it does this dad good to see him toil in the soil.

I am equally grateful for the readers of this publication as well as my virtual friends. To those of you who have reached out to me via my blog and through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, I cannot express how wonderful it is to hear how gardening has touched your life. It is a great joy to hear from people locally as well as from as far away as Malaysia and Ukraine. Your comments, advice and kind words have enriched my soul far beyond what I can express.

It is also a time to reflect on lessons learned from the garden. One big lesson for me this year was patience. Picture this: last January, I needed to apply a dormant spray to my roses. It was below freezing, and the roses were dormant. It seemed like the perfect time… so I thought. It was a Monday; I was already late for the office and was dressed in a suit. I thought, “I’ll just do this on my way out the door.” Well, my sprayer clogged and I ended up spraying myself instead of the roses. Despite a vigorous scrub with soap and water, no one wanted to sit next to me in meetings that day. My roses and my co-workers deserve better.

Even as I reflect on this past season of gardening life, I am beginning to contemplate the coming spring. While the garden sleeps, I plan. By mid-January, our mailbox is full of seed and flower catalogs and the process begins again.

One of the many things I love about gardening is that it reflects life. We all have joys, sorrows, successes, failures, and the opportunity for a new start, the ability to begin again. I am reminded of a passage from the bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1. “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” wWe plant, we grow, we harvest and we celebrate our families, our gardens and our lives…