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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: The Master Gardener
By Betty Castleberry


A path of blue-green grass and clover formed a soft cushion beneath Maggie’s feet. She kicked off her flip flops and wiggled her toes, delighting in the feel of nature’s carpet.

The first thing she noticed was her patch of lemon yellow snapdragons. A few had faded to muddy brown, their blossoms quickly spent in the summer heat. She reached down and snapped off the dead heads.

She had read somewhere that talking to plants was good for them. One cheery blossom was beginning to droop. She singled it out. “Hello pretty flower. I know the heat is hard on you. It’s hard on me, too. This heat wave will be over soon. Try to hang in there. You know you are my favorite.”

God‘s hand was everywhere in her garden. It was her Happy Place. She loved spending time among her plants and digging her fingers into the loose earth. Tending her plants always made her smile.

An arbor covered with tea roses the color of fresh, ripe peaches welcomed her each day. Just beyond the arbor was a rock wall flanked by two hydrangea bushes. The puffy pink blossoms spilled haphazardly over the wall. Maggie often sat on the wall and prayed, while taking in the fresh fragrance of the flowers.

She made her way to the waist-high wall and hoisted herself up. Nature’s sweet bouquet perfumed the air all around her. She brushed against a hydrangea blossom, causing the bloom to bob up and down and settle on the wall beside her. Maggie admired the large round flower. “My, aren’t you beautiful today? You know you are my favorite.”

Bowing her head, she prayed out loud. “Lord, You are the Master Gardener. Thank you for this place of solitude. Nothing brings me more happiness than to sit among your beautiful creations and think of You. I see You in every bud, every bloom, and every leaf here. Thank you for guiding my hands and giving me enough wisdom to tend Your garden. And thank You for loaning it to me to enjoy.”

When she opened her eyes, a bed of zinnias caught her attention. The blossoms were firecracker hot, their foliage cool green. Unlike the snapdragons, they loved the heat. She hopped off the wall and went for a closer look. Jolting orange, wild fuchsia, and lipstick red blooms stood at attention to greet her. Maggie touched a hot pink blossom. “You know you are my favorite.”

A riot of daylilies bloomed next to the zinnias. They looked particularly healthy. This was the first year Maggie had planted them, and she was pleased they had done so well. She ran her fingers down the long green stem of one of the large blooms. The colors reminded her of the sunset. She bent down and closely examined the flower. “You know you are my favorite.”

She strolled through her garden, relishing the blooms, and seeking out anything that needed care. “In the Garden” seemed an appropriate song to sing, so Maggie sang joyfully, although a little off-key. Her high pitched, creaky offering was only for the Lord to hear anyway, and she knew it sounded wonderful to Him.

Maggie had placed a bench at the end of her garden path. Next to the bench was a large oak tree, and just a few feet away was a bird bath. It was one of Maggie’s favorite places, offering shade and respite. Maggie sat on the bench and watched a sparrow splashing the shallow water in the bird bath. Droplets shot skyward, catching the sun’s rays and creating tiny midday stars above the small bird’s head. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. Maggie chuckled as she watched, then said softly as he flew off, “You know you are my favorite.”

Maggie closed her eyes. A cool breeze blew across her forehead, ruffling her hair. She found that odd, because the day was humid and still. Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked around, then closed them again. Once again, a cool breeze brushed across her face. This time she kept her eyes shut, and a slow smile began to form on her lips. A solitary voice, soft as a whisper, and as melodious as a full choir, seemed to come from every direction.

She thought she would burst with joy as she distinctly heard the voice say, “You know you are my favorite.”

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This article has been read 1428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 07/19/07
Lovely, lovely! The descriptions are so vivid, I feel I'm in the garden beside you. I love how nature mirrors the beauty and awesomeness of God. The message at the end is wonderful!
Joanne Sher 07/20/07
Amazingly beautiful description. This is like a painting - a masterpiece of a painting. I was right there in the garden with you. Just gorgeous.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/21/07
This piece has such beautiful descriptions. I love the use of "You know you are my favorite."
David Butler07/22/07
A really nice "feel good" piece, this is. Being a gardener myself, I can tell you know your species well. :)
Can't see how this could be improved on. It could lend itself to verse, but it's great as is, and doesn't have the restraints that poetry can put on it. Well done.
Kristen Hester07/23/07
What a vivid picture of a beautiful garden. I love the "You are favorite" line. When you have more than one child you understand this concept. It's wonderful to think that is how God thinks of us.
Joy Faire Stewart07/23/07
I can relate to the feelings the MC has as, I too, love my gardens. Your descriptions are beautiful...loved it.
Sara Harricharan 07/25/07
Simply lovely! I wanted to be lost in this lovely daydream for the rest of this dreary, rainy day! Your descriptions made me feel like I was walking right along with Maggie the whole time. I loved how she singled out every flower and the last line was a real keeper. Great writing! ^_^
Joanney Uthe07/25/07
Great story with very appropriate title! I really liked how the MC knew each one's preferences. Awesome job.
Pam Carlson-Hetland07/25/07
Aahhh....it felt so peaceful walking in the garden with Maggie. I smiled through the whole story. It made me "happy." And, yes, that last line -- so beautifully wrapped up. I love this story!
Brenda Welc07/25/07
Funniest thing, snap dragons just seemed to appear out of nowhere around my computer! This was wonderfully written. Very vivid images. Well written and captivating.
Jacquelyn Horne07/25/07
Sounds like a very pleasant place to be. The garden was pictured lovely.
LaNaye Perkins07/25/07
This is one of my favorites this week. I love the way your story drew me in where I felt like I was walking along beside your lady in the garden. Bravo!
Catrina Bradley 07/25/07
Surrounded by God's beautiful creation is my "happy place" too. Great descriptions of the plants, and the voice at the end gave me goosebumps - you made it so real! Wonderful.
Dixie Phillips07/25/07
My grandma would love this story. Her happy place was always in her garden. Vivid descriptions! You really have an eye for detail!