Daylily reminds us to rejoice in the day the Lord has made

Wild Daylily HEMEROCALLIS FULVA

Wild Daylily
HEMEROCALLIS FULVA

By Orrin Morris

Charles Dickens penned a famous first line that states, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”   That is the way I look at our current situation — locally, nationally and internationally.

There are many good things happening all about us and around the world.  At the same time, there are some terrible things occurring.  We make a serious mistake if we focus on one to the exclusion of the other.

A verse in Psalm 118 has been a guide for me from the time I memorized it in Sunday School over 70 years ago:

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).

This is not a Pollyanna response, but a challenge to accept the fact that God gives life.  If God wanted me to live in another era, He would have so chosen.  Thus, I view “this day” as His affirmation that my uniqueness is needed now to make a difference.  Since I am His adopted child by grace, I have tasks to perform that should benefit those with whom I have a relationship.

Make this verse a buffer against being overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds us, because, “This is the day which the Lord has made…”  And, speaking of “days,” let us examine the common daylily.

The wild daylily, often called the orange daylily, is the lazy gardener’s best friend. These flowers range from 2 to 6 feet tall and require very little attention. They adapt to their surroundings, wherever there is water, and grow at an exponential rate every year.

The wild daylily is a hybrid from Eurasian species.  It does not produce seeds, as do other species of the lily family.  Instead, it spreads from the tough rootstocks.  When the rootstock must be divided, a hatchet or limb saw is needed.  They are unlike the bulbs or corms of the other lilies that are more easily divided by hand.

Another difference within the lily family is the way it blooms on a single leafless stalk.  Stalks of other lilies have various configurations of leaves: in whorls (Turk’s-cap lily), opposites (tiger lily) and triplets (most trilliums).  The leaves of the daylily are long and sword-like, rising from the base of the stalk.

A third difference is that the wild daylily bloom is short-lived.  It blooms from May to July, but may grow earlier or later depending on the season.  The rusty-orange bloom is trumpet-shaped and generally has six petals.

A daylily’s habitat includes fields and waste places. There are large clusters of daylilies throughout Rockdale County, and clusters usually indicate the site of a former homestead.

Just as a daylily finds a home wherever it grows, find a home in God today.  This day is yours, so rejoice that God has counted you worthy to serve Him in it.

White Horsemint: A Thing of God’s Beauty

WHITE HORSEMINT Pycnanthemum incanum

WHITE HORSEMINT
Pycnanthemum incanum

By Orrin Morris

While teaching one summer at a seminary in the San Francisco area, I visited the Humboldt Redwood State Park.  I was dwarfed by the size of those magnificent trees.  The Scripture verses for today come from Psalms 91:1-2:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust.’

Unlike Redwoods, today’s wildflower, white horsemint, is easily overlooked.  You must travel to the edge of the woods to find it; and, on my property, it blooms in late summer in the shadows of our 60- to 80-foot oaks and hickories.  Even the smallest of plants, however, can communicate God’s magnificent, towering beauty.

As an artist, I’ve always enjoyed the beautiful colors, the fascinating textures and the delicate details of the smallest to the largest wildflower.  The white horsemint from afar looks like a weed whose top leaves have been bleached white by the sun, but a closer look reveals there is wonder in the details.

This wildflower bears its blooms on a plant that stands 3 to 5 feet tall and is easily identified by the whitish-green leaves surrounding the blossoms at the uppermost part of the branches. The stem is square, a common feature of the mint family.

When you get close and examine the blossoms you discover it is not just one bloom but many small flowers in a cluster.  The individual flower is less than 1/4 inch wide and about 3/4 inch tall. It is shaped like the bell of a trombone but stretched so the top of the bell juts upward and the bottom into a three-part lobe.  Its color is light pink or white with purple spots randomly located about the corolla. You need a magnifying glass to see these details, especially the pistil and stamen.

White horsemint is found in dry areas of thin or open woods. It blooms from June to September on my property, though my resource books say that it blooms primarily in September to October.  When the leaves are crushed they give off a mint odor and can be used to flavor iced tea.

In October, the leaves drop, but atop the stems will be dried flowers in which tiny black seeds can be harvested for planting in rock gardens and natural areas.

Finally, may you find joy by following the counsel I teach my students, “Look — truly look — at the shapes, colors, and textures.”  Thus, you can begin to grasp the true beauty of God’s highly diverse creation and “abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Virginia Creeper Reminds us of God’s Nourishment during Drought

VIRGINIA CREEPER Parthenocissus Quinquefolia

VIRGINIA CREEPER
Parthenocissus Quinquefolia

By Orrin Morris

Drought is hard on the wildflower kingdom, as it is on every other facet of nature.  The photo for this drawing was taken one fall sunrise in such a year.

Deep in the woods below my house was a mighty white oak that was aglow with red.  I got out my digital camera and zoomed in on the sight.  As I had expected, it was a Virginia Creeper. The bright red fall leaves of the vine had practically engulfed about 50 feet of the 80-foot tall oak.

I remember the excitement I felt at that moment.  Why would such a simple display stir my emotions? Because this plant was defying the negative mood of this extended drought with the message, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

You may know this native wildflower by names other than Virginia creeper, such as woodbine or American ivy. It has a five-leaf cluster as the vine ascends the wall, the fence or a tree.  The individual leaves are serrated, as illustrated.

Virginia creeper blooms in July and August. The flowers are tiny and brownish-green so they will not likely adorn anyone’s dinner table.

The real beauty of the Virginia creeper occurs at the onset of the fall colors. In late September or early October, you will notice its brilliant crimson leaves reaching 50 or 60 feet upward on pines and hardwoods whose trunks have a minimum of branches. It does not like deep shade.

On the other hand, Virginia creeper often creeps outward as a ground cover whereby the leaves form a 12-inch “roof” for small animals and birds to hide from predators.

Virginia creeper has at least four claims to fame. First, it is used for erosion control by several states because it does not coexist with kudzu, but strangles it. The second benefit is for wildlife, especially songbirds, who thrive on the small blue fruit.

Third, with careful management, this woody, deciduous vine can be developed as an ornamental on a garden trellis.  And finally, the bark has been used by pharmaceuticals to treat dropsy, as a tonic, and as an expectorant, according to John Lust in “The Herb Book.”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

Rev. Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist pastor, artist and teacher.   Find out more about his art and wildflowers on his website.