Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mountain Laurel: Planting With Care

I suppose that planting a Mountain Laurel ('Kalmia latifolia') should be similar to putting any other shrub in the ground. With care, I selected the site in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden, prepared the ground, removed and replaced the soil, installed a drainage system, placed the plant in the ground, watered it, and covered the soil with mulch. But that is only part of the story.

In July of this year, I wrote a blog article entitled Becky Lynn Daylily and Mountain Laurel: Pictures of God's Restorative Process. I stated in that article:
My first daughter's name is Laurel; I named her after the soft-pink Mountain Laurel, the state flower of Pennsylvania. On many occasions I told young Laurel how that plant is the prettiest flower in the whole wide world. Of course there are many gorgeous flowers in the world and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But that is how she was to me when she was born, the prettiest little girl in the whole wide world. For some reason, I have not been able to locate a Mountain Laurel to plant in that garden – possibly there continues to be a spiritual blockage that is yet unresolved.

Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia from

That article was about my two adult daughters that have been estranged from me for far too long.

The Abiding Love Prayer Room in the garden had been carefully redesigned in May to accommodate the Mountain Laurel: adjacent to the gorgeous 'Bonica' roses. To me, this prayer room is often an encounter with Christ's agape love; it symbolically states my love for Laurel.

I recently found this well-grown plant specimen at a wholesale nursery – I was overjoyed because repeated phone calls and conversations in June and July indicated I may not be able to find one in Central New York. I was hopeful because that meant to me that possibly the spiritual blockage was being removed.

I have learned to check the internet before planting to see what others recommend about growing plants that I have not grown before. One very good site is the Missouri Botanical Garden: Kalmia Latifolia. From this, I knew that the native heavy clay soil had to be removed and replaced. We have a large area where two truckloads of sand had covered a difficult area, so I knew I could use that as a resource. I wanted the best growing conditions for this little gem.

The Mountain Laurel blooms in May; autumn's beauty is the bright shiny leaves on this two-foot round shrub.

It took me two days to plant what would normally take just a few hours – the many recollections of our wonderful times together were both thrilling to recall but left me pondering, "What should I have done better?" Realistically there may be no true answer to the many diverse thoughts for those times are now gone. I made many, many mistakes and I had really spoiled that little girl for she was so very special to me.

As I sat on the bench near the new plant location, I realized once again that the time of restoration of our relationship may soon be at hand. What is God doing? What is Laurel doing? Does she have children? Is she still married and, if so, how is that marriage going? Is she happy? Is she sad? What does she look like?

Harry Chapin's song The Cat's in the Cradle has been running through my mind for the last six or seven days. "And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me, my boy was just like me." What is she like? Is she in some way like me? I wonder.

No one has said anything to me, but I believe this restoration will happen very soon.