No English Garden

by Janet Holm McHenry

Yesterday I mowed the back yard…then thatched it…then mowed again to pick up the thatch.

As I pushed those contraptions, I bemoaned the fact that I never got my English garden in my back yard. When we first started the landscaping process, I planted 42 rose bushes. I had hoped for a hedge that would bloom all summer long with abundant pinks and reds. I had dug the holes for all those bushes and planted and cared for them myself—arduous work.

My husband Craig wasn’t crazy about the idea. “You’re hemming in the kids’ whiffle ball field.”

The next spring all those rose bushes were dead—nothing but easily pulled-up dry sticks. However, a clear outline of the whiffle ball infield remained.   

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

In another season I thought I’d try a variety of perennials. My youngest and I dug up a large kidney-shaped area and planted all kinds of plants that were guaranteed to come back season after season.

But the next year they looked worse than the previous one, and eventually I was just left with a couple in my kidney-shaped rock garden that was mostly rocks. Craig had been right when he had said, “It’s never going to work, Janet. Your garden is right in the middle of left field.”

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

But as I looked over a massive area of thatch that I’d pulled from the sod, I realized that I did indeed have a back yard garden. Every time my grandkids came over and played whiffle ball with my husband—their “Pop”—they were blooming in not only their physical and mental abilities but also their relationship with their grandfather. And he was blooming too–with the joy of hanging out with six (or even ten when the others are visiting) young people who begged him to play ball. My prayers for a garden had been answered—just a bit differently than I had pictured.

Scripture teaches us that God hears our prayers. He knows our wants and desires, so it can be confusing when our prayers are not answered in the way we want. However, His view is longer and wider than our limited vision. We see the here and now, but He knows exactly what will truly meet our greatest needs and make us more loving, faith-filled, and generous of spirit. 

I can always visit flower gardens elsewhere. For now I’ll look over my back yard whiffle ball field and be thankful that God did indeed answer my desires for a garden of life.

Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see. 2 Kings 19:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry and her husband Craig raised four pretty good whiffle ball players at their home in the Sierra Valley of northeastern California. A national speaker, she is a former educator and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. More about Janet, including her writing coach business, can be found at

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? Please share!


2 thoughts on “No English Garden

  1. Aw, Janet, this was a beautiful blog. Sometimes we don’t see the “garden” right in front of us! Thank you! Really hit home!


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