Last fall many of my vibrant Marigolds’ flower heads began to dry and produce a multitude of seeds. Some people would look at them and say they were “dead flowers” but actually the dry flower heads have the capacity to multiply and create new life in coming seasons. If you save the seeds, you could produce new Marigolds years later. I carefully saved most of the seeds for friends and my future gardens, while others I scattered in the flower bed to come back on their own in the right season. They came back beautifully.
These were some of the biggest, lushest Marigolds I have ever grown. Marigolds also happen to be a signature companion plant. They grow well with many vegetables and their strong smell repels mosquitos and many other pests that would bother vegetables. In India, Marigolds symbolize celebration (notice this journal created by artisans in India and incorporates marigold flower petals). Why would I ever want to dig up or cut back such gorgeous and helpful plants? Because, even a good thing can get in the way. The Marigolds in my garden bed began growing before I transplanted peppers, eggplants, and okra into this garden bed. As a result their root system had the advantage and took up the most space. The plants became so big and lush that they shaded out some of the vegetable plants and without optimal sun, their growth was stunted. So it was time to cut back these beautiful plants to make room for our food bearing plants to produce. Have you ever had to give up something to make room for something else? Sometimes even very good things need to be weeded or pruned out of our life. The Marigold is a plant that I consider a great asset in my garden most of the time; but in this case some of the plants needed to be moved elsewhere and some needed to be pruned drastically so that the garden bed could become even more fruitful. John 15 gives an excellent example of this concept. Jesus said in verse 2 “He (His Father) cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does beat fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” This is absolute truth in gardening though it seems counterintuitive—you would think that cutting more material away would leave you with less growth, but that is only temporary. Pruning, properly, unleashes tremendous, productive, healthy growth in plants. In the same way, I am reminded that intentionally cutting away unnecessary things in my life leaves more room for much more to grow. This reminds me of the times we have purged our home to prepare for a move or to make room for something better. It is painful to part with belongings sometimes but it can be a necessary step in living more comfortably. The pain of letting go is temporary and the gain is more lasting. I often think about how this is also true about how I spend my time. I’m looking forward with anticipation to see how the vegetable plants in this bed will produce after being given the care to make it happen. The temporary loss of extra flowers will be an opportunity for our garden to produce more food. My hope for you today is that you’ll recognize the areas in your life that can be meaningfully pruned for optimal growth!