I am always seeking out beauty – in the garden and in nature.

But there is much that is ugly as well.

Sometimes I am tempted to look the other way when I see ugly scenes. But then the ugly invades my space.

roses w japanese beetle bitesThere is ugliness in our country and world today. And there is ugliness in my garden as well. Japanese beetles are flourishing and they are devouring the late bloom on my rose bushes. This is a small ugly compared to nuclear war, or racism, or health issues, or untimely deaths, or other ugly realities. Yet when I look at the roses that are so quickly devoured, I feel the sense that things are not right, and that I have little control over nature.

Since the beetles arrived in my neighborhood several years ago, I’ve taken a few steps to minimize their impact. I’ve removed the Virginia creeper vine from my fence, because they seem to love those large leaves to munch on – except that the vine keeps growing back and I have to keep pulling it out.

japanese beetles 2I also try to remember to go out every day and look at my roses – to knock the beetles into a cup of water before they eat too much. Normally I would leave most of my roses on the bush to provide color in my yard, but now I am cutting buds more often and bringing them in for bouquets, before the beetles start munching.

Sometimes I’m away a few days, or I forget to check, and I find a rose blossom covered in beetles, quickly eating away all the beauty.

The discouraging aspect of this beetle scourge is that there are limited ways to combat the beetles. I hesitate to use sprays as I don’t want to harm the bees that love my garden. Some experts say that the beetle traps may attract even more beetles, rather than diminishing the population. The only solace in the seasonal fight is that the first bloom of roses is before the beetles emerge, so at least I can enjoy that bloom. But this late summer, bonus bloom, is at risk. Every year.

Ugly, and no hope of killing the beetles, other than once the whole garden is dormant and it all freezes. Experts also say that the larvae thrive in well-watered lawns, so at least I can draw some comfort from the fact that my lawn isn’t in great shape! I’m more of a flower gal than a lawn gal.

Ugly invades our world, and all the beauty seems to be devoured. We see glimmers of beauty – in people, in communities, and in gardens, and we cling to that hope. And we long for the day when all is made right, as God has promised. No more war, racism, illness, untimely death or devouring bugs. Yet we live in this in-between, with ugly and beauty.

better-polka-roseThe pictures in this post are from my garden. I had previously taken a picture of the beetles but realized it was out of focus, so I went outside and found another bud with beetles on it (arghh!). My new picture is also a bit out of focus, because the beetles were moving, but I didn’t want to take any more time before I knocked them into a pail of water. (Even though I had checked the buds this morning – the beetles started eating during the day.) Another picture shows a partially eaten blossom, after I knocked off the beetles to rescue the other buds. And the last picture is a perfect blossom from the earlier bloom on a different rose bush!

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