Archive for the ‘Gardening and Landscaping’ Category

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I miss it. Summer has been busy, and last minute preparations are under way for the big wedding on October 11 in Maine. But amidst the busyness, I wanted to share this story that a dear friend sent me. It’s lengthy but well worth the read.

A very successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.”
The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued, “I am going to give each one of you a SEED today — one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and I will choose one to be the next CEO.”
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and, excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and they planted the seed. Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that they were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.
Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil. He so wanted the seed to grow.
The year went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she said “Jim, it is important to be honest about what happened.”
Jim felt sick at his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot into the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful — in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!” All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front.
Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed. Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down, except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Here is your next Chief Executive! His name is Jim!”
Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said. Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were all dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you.”
“Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my original seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!”
Here’s a thought
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment.
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you reap later.

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Dutch Irises

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

A few weeks ago Mike came home from the store with several purple Dutch irises and planted them in our front yard. They added a nice splash of color to the landscape, and I thought I would share this picture with everyone. About a week or two after he planted these, one day, Mike noticed a new Iris had opened up, and this one was White in color! What a surprise. We call it our albino iris. I did not get a chance to photograph that one, but Jeremy did, and I will see if I can get him to forward it to me. Tonight Mike planted over 100 bulbs in our backyard. I’m sure the days ahead will bring many fragrant and delightful surprises! I can’t wait! How can anyone not believe there is a God. His creation screams of His existence!

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Pink Azaleas in our backyard

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Spring is definitely in full swing at our place. Every day seems to yield a new bloom or flower. The rosebushes have innumerable blooms waiting to burst forth. The lilac trees are flowering, Mom’s day lily is starting to show flowers, and life is brand new! To top that off, Mike is planting hundreds of bulbs, so it should be a colorful show all spring and summer long! Thank God for his beautiful creation, so verdant and full of various shades and hues. The picture above is of one of our pink Azaleas in the backyard. We have a red one in the front yard that looks so perfect, people have commented that it looks artificial! But it’s REAL!

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Bloom Where you’re Planted

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Spring has sprung in northern California, and for the past few weeks, we have been anticipating and enjoying the re-birth of many of our plants, both in our front and back yards. It never ceases to amaze me how a plant that is shriveled up and left for dead can burst forth a few months later into new life!

The other day as I was walking the pathway to the front door of our home, I noticed that a small stem of a plant was growing out of one of our large ornamental rocks in the front yard. This is another phenomenon that is amazing to me as well. How can anything spring up from a rock, which is dry and apparently lacking in soil and nutrients that are vital to a plant’s growth? Whenever I see something like this, I am reminded that if a plant which God made, can survive under the direst of circumstances, then we too can bloom where we are planted.

Too many times I’ve seen people (myself included) say to themselves that they would be more successful or happier in life if only their circumstances were different. The apostle Paul stated: …”For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil 4:11) No matter the situation in our lives, we can grow and flourish when we abide in God.

So let’s remember that if God can cause a lily to grow out of a rock, then He can allow you to bloom wherever you are planted.muscari.jpg

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Pond pictures 008

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

No photographer was there to capture this incredible event, as it occurred under cover of darkness this past Friday night. But we all heard the humming sound when Mike flipped on the switch that activated the water pump. Within seconds we could hear the sounds of running water as it cascaded down each stone tier into the pond….Heartspring Pond, as we named it. With the flashlight, we were able with our limited night vision to view our two falls merrily skipping down the stones and abandoning themselves over the rock precipice down into our little pond below. We looked forward to the next day when we could photograph our new falls.

Saturday dawned dreary and rainy. It showered all day, and the pond ran as well. This was not a good picture-taking moment. But today, Sunday, arrived in golden sunshine and illuminated our little pond and falls with radiant light. After months of planning and toiling, Mike and Jeremy can now rejoice in the work of their hands…Heartspring falls are running! Much thanks to all those who helped with digging and moving the big stone.

The new music we now hear outside our family room door and windows is a song no musician could compose. We almost feel like we’re in Yosemite by the Merced River or near Happy Isles when we listen to our falls running. What is it about running water that calms the spirit and ushers in tranquility? Caleb’s daughter must’ve sensed it too, for she asked her father for a blessing; in addition to the property he had given her, she requested springs of water. And being the generous father that he was, he gave her the upper and lower springs (Joshua 15:17-19). Of course water is necessary to sustain life, and best of all, it quenches our thirst.

Jesus spoke of water to a Samaritan woman who was drawing from a well. He said, …”Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14) In another place, He said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive…(John 7:37-39).

I remember a time in my life where I was so empty inside. My soul was thirsty and dry. But Jesus came into my life and filled me with His Spirit. And it was indeed like a well springing up into eternal life! Nothing can satisfy soul thirst like being filled with the Spirit of God.  Now I’m drinking from a well that will never run dry!

The falls cascade over The ROCK

Close up of Falls cascading down The Rock


Side View of Pond


Other Side View


Front View

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Heartspring Pond and Future Falls

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Last Saturday, after the guys who had helped Mike and Jeremy with the constructing of our backyard pond had left, I sat down at the computer to blog on the event. A while later, I was interrupted by Mike calling me to come outside. “Now what”? I irritably muttered. My whole day had been spent taking pictures, doing laundry, getting drinks for all the guys and fixing lunch for them. I had made them a big pot of my homemade Italian minestrone soup. I was tired and needed some “me” time. Reluctantly, I stepped outside. Mike motioned me over to the pond, and to my surprise, I saw this heart-shaped rock mortared to the inside of the pond. Mike had found it amongst the stones he had bought for building the pond and falls. Instantly my irritation vanished, and my face broke out in a big smile. It was a special moment as Mike and I held each other. I told him that we should name the pond. He suggested “Heart Springs”, and it has stuck. I’m looking forward to seeing Heartspring falls when it is finished and perhaps dipping my tootsies in the tranquil water. More to follow in future posts.


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For the past month or so, my husband Mike and our son Jeremy have been laboring to build a pond and waterfall in our backyard. Mike had been wanting to do this now for a few years, but circumstances just didn’t seem to work out until now. He had tried to find a contractor willing to bid out the job, but nobody seemed interested in tackling an undertaking this small. Finally, Mike and Jeremy decided that they would just do it themselves. Mike paid a visit to a pond and waterfall operation in Escalon, CA where he picked up the pond kit and other necessary items he would need. He also bought a DVD that showed step-by-step instructions on building your own pond. He was ready to roll.

He and Jeremy began by digging the hole and adding topsoil to build up the area behind our three redwoods from where the waterfalls would originate. Mike visited a Rock Source in Vacaville and found a 500-pound rock that he thought would be just perfect for the waterfall. It was delivered to our driveway about 3 weeks ago, and there it sat, too heavy to move any further. Mike enlisted the assistance of Jeremy, his friend Mike, and Bro. Louie (The Bear), to help with moving the rock into the backyard where the pond would be located. Today was D-day. I had been fretting and worrying in my mind about this rock move. I had visions of someone hurting their back or getting a hernia from trying to hoist this heavy stone. Needless to say, I had also been praying and asking God to let this operation run smoothly today. Mike has a lower back problem that flares up from time to time. Bro. Louie had abdominal surgery back in April, and I was “worried”!

The guys started the work at 10:00 am, and while chiseling a small piece of outcropping on the rock before they moved it, the rock split in half horizontally! It was a clean split, and because of this happening, they were able to move the top and bottom halves separately. This made the job a lot easier, because now they were only hauling 250 pounds instead of 500. Plus it lifted a big load of worry off my mind! Everything went smoothly and worked out great. Mike and Jeremy mortared the two sections of rock together onto the shelf they had created for it. Later Mike and I were talking, and we both agreed that God orchestrated this whole event. Mike told me that they probably would have had a much harder time moving that rock as one piece. I believe God caused that rock to split and worked everything out. He answered my prayers, and I am so excited about the outcome. It never ceases to amaze me the way God arranges things in our lives. I can look back on my life and see so many situations that seemed impossible until God stepped in and turned things around. Once again, today I was reminded of what an awesome God I serve.

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It has been related that when the ground in London was cleared of the old buildings to make way for the new Kingsway, it lay for several seasons without use, exposed to the rain and sunshine.  After a while, naturalists were coming to view the cleared land.  A strange thing had happened and they wanted to observe.  In spots it is certain that the soil had not felt the touch of Spring since the days when the Romans sailed up the Thames-perhaps even before then.  When the blessed air and light had drenched the uncovered soil, a host of wild plants and flowers sprang up to be kissed by the sun.  Some of these flowers were never seen in England before.  But they were blooming in the Mediterranean countries at that very same time of year.  These many years they seemingly were dead, buried beneath the mass of rocks, bricks and mortar lying dormant season after season.  But they were merely obeying the laws of life under these new conditions and were blossoming into new beauty.


There is a simile here.  Every life, no matter how crushed and bruised by the cares and sorrows of circumstances, needs only to be laid bare to the sunshine of God’s love, and the healing touch of His grace.  Then a new life with new possibilities and new beauties will blossom forth in abundance, no matter how desolate the surroundings may appear.  (Taken from Streams in the Desert)


I wrote the following poem after having visited Mt. St. Helens in Washington state in 1995.  I was amazed that 15 years after the cataclysmic eruption new life was forming everywhere I gazed.  And so it is with God.  He can take the ashes and embers of a life torn by sin and tragedy and transform it into a thing of beauty.  To God be the glory!




Out of the desolation,

A tiny flower blooms.

Only months before,

Encased inside a tomb.

Buried ‘neath the rubble,

Of snow and ash and stone.

Destined to destruction.

Confined and all alone.


But now this thing of beauty,

Appears beneath my gaze.

Amidst the ruin lies splendor,

Worthy of my praise.


Out of the desolation,

How can this life now be?

Once dormant ‘neath the wasteland,

Now alive for all to see.


Who would have know that a flower,

Which everyone thought was dead,

When touched by the Hand of God,

Could bring new life instead.


Out of the desolation,

New life begins to grow.

Tis not man who does it.

But God, who makes it so.

Dead to self and sin

Will raise us from desolation

And bring a change within.

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I ran across the following writing in my devotional the other day and thought I would share it with everyone.  How easy it can be to become critical of others.  But God is no respecter of persons and is not that way.  Neither should we be.

A little seed lay in the ground

And soon began to sprout.

“Now which of all the flowers around,

It mused, “shall I come out?” 

“Then the little seed said to itself:  ‘I don’t want to be a lily, for lilies are so cold and lofty.  I don’t want to be a rose, for the rose is rather loud in color, it dies quickly, its edges wilt and it isn’t very practical.  I don’t want to be a violet, for the violet is too small, too dark and grows too close to the ground.’ “The little seed was like some people we all know.  It was critical.  It was critical of everything around it.  It found fault with all its neighbors.  It didn’t like the colors of some, the perfume of others, the size and shape of others.  It had nothing constructive to offer, even in its own behalf.  The whole theme of its life was criticism.

 And so it criticized each flower,

This supercilious seed,

Until it woke one summer hour

And found itself a Weed!

 “There has been only one faultless Person in this world, and He has promised to present all believers ‘faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy’ (Jude 24).  Until then, let each believer be a ‘flower’ rather than a weed in this scene of His rejection.”  – CMA Church bulletin 

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Of if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  But let every man prove his own work, and then shall  he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  (Gal. 6:1-4) Taken from Streams in the Desert, Volume Two by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

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Emerald Arborvitaes in our front yard

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

With the beautiful spring-like temperatures we have been experiencing the past two weeks, Mike and I have been bitten with the planting bug. Last weekend and the one before, we visited nurseries and found several beautiful plants that we really liked. One of them is called Emerald Arborvitae.   The emerald green arborvitae is an evergreen tree with bright emerald green foliage. The emerald arborvitae can reach a height of thirty feet and have a spread of about eight to ten feet. They make an excellent screen, and can grow at a rate of about four feet per year. When young, the emerald arborvitae has a bright green color to its foliage which darkens as the plant ages. We decided to purchase 9 of these lush green plants. Right now, they are only about 3-1/2 feet tall. We have them in different areas of our front yard. Since we like to name things, we have given them the names of the nine fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (self control). We hope that these plants will grow and thrive and that we will grove and thrive spiritually as well.

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