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Saints Preserve Us

Making things grow, with a lick and a prayer

April 2023

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

Our poor excuse for winter is over now. At least, I’d like to think so. The latest I’ve seen it snow is April 19, though — so there’s still time to be walloped by a flurry of flakes.

But, it’s April. And you know what that means: time to start the garden. Time to plant the seeds and hope to watch them sprout and grow.

Many of you in the warmer rural parts may already be enjoying daffodils and crocuses and hyacinths. Here in the mountains, nothing has broken through the ground just yet. But the flowers and the buds are coming. I hope they don’t get buried in a late snowfall.

Perhaps you are already planning your garden. My sister is one of those planners. Her layout for planting flowers and shrubs and whatever else is as carefully mapped out as something an architect might create. And they all grow, and they all look beautiful.

Not so, for me. My sister got the gardening gene from our dear late mother. My mother used to have roses everywhere, and gladioli, and daylilies and tulips and cosmos, and many other varieties scattered throughout the yard. She even had what she called “The Church’s Garden.”

This was a plot dedicated to flowers that she could clip and then arrange for church every week. My mother, Dorothy McCollum, was known for her flowers. She was dedicated and had a real talent for it.

That’s why I was so thrilled and surprised to find in my mail in late February a prayer card commemorating Saint Dorothy, the patron saint of gardeners. What? Who knew? Even a good friend who is a master gardener was unaware that there is a patron saint of gardeners. Now we know.

Catholics have a penchant for patron saints. And many other denominations know the chief ones — Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals; Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers; Saint Anthony (one of my favorites), patron saint of lost things.

I cannot count the number of lost, important things — and even not-so-important things — that a quick prayer or two to Saint Anthony has brought home to me.

Once, a lovely gold earring my mother gave me fell out of my ear somewhere, and I didn’t notice. I backtracked and looked everywhere, but no earring was to be found. I said several prayers to Saint Anthony, but … nothing.

Then, one day about six months later, a workman knocked on my door. “Ma’am,” he said, “Is this yours?” In his hand was my gold earring. He’d found it in the driveway, and I had driven over it several times. No matter: It was gold, which is quite malleable, and the earring was good as new in short order.

But, back to Saint Dorothy, the patron saint of gardeners. I’m afraid no number of prayers to St. Dorothy will help me with gardening. I have one of those “brown thumbs,” rather than a green one. I used to at least try to grow some flowers. I’d spend a day choosing them, and paying a goodly price for them, haul them home, and spend a day or two planting them in pots. Then, I’d stand at my front door and call, “You’re on your own!” Within a few weeks, they’d leave for greener pastures, so to speak.

My yard now consists of perennials that my mother Dorothy planted, which refuse to give up. I have some daffodils, some tulips, a couple of cosmos and crocuses. I have a pink flowering dogwood tree — each year it looks more tired and worn, much like me. But the peonies? They are still hearty, God bless them. And the hostas go crazy every summer.

Maybe St. Dorothy has something to do with that? I sure hope so.

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon-Wed., 9-5, or email [email protected].