Monday, February 2, 2015

Six Generations of Gardeners

The women in my mother's family are known for their gardens.I am (at least) the sixth generation of gardeners in my mother's family. I've only known three generations other than myself and each of us has a different philosophy....or maybe just a progression of philosophies.

My great grandmother and grandmother lived with us for about six months before Granny decided she wanted to spend her final days at her son's farm. So, she and Bebe moved to the farm. I spent my weekends, holidays, and summer with them on the farm. I learned a lot from Granny about plants. She would describe a plant to me and tell me how to look for it. I would then spend hours looking for it and take her the leaf to verify my find.

Granny said you could look at a person's yard and tell the condition of that family. If they grew vegetables, she said they had hope. If they grew fruit, they had a sense of permanence. If they grew flowers, they had joy. I think of that so often when I drive through an area of homes.

After Granny died, Bebe moved back in with my mother and me and lived with us until I married. Bebe's philosophy had a bit different focus. She was a very practical person and her philosophy reflected that. She said it was a foolish person who would buy commercial fertilizers when God gives us so much natural fertilizer. I never heard her use the word compost. Instead she used the verb forms: composting, composted, composts. When I complained once that I couldn't grow ferns, she said if you want to have a green thumb, just learn what you can grow well and grow lots of it. Then, people will think you have a green thumb and before long, so will you.

My mother always said only edible plants should be brought inside though she made exception for Christmas cactus, one of her favorites. She also had a soft spot for amaryllis and mandevilla. She had an eight foot by four foot window installed in her basement so she could bring them inside for the winter. Until her eightieth birthday, she refused to have cut flowers in the house. A friend, at her eightieth birthday party, violated Mother's ban against cut flowers and brought her a dozen red roses. Mother accepted them graciously, later saying she wondered why she had never like cut flowers. I didn't remind her that she had always equated them with funerals.

My philosophy toward gardening includes some of their ideas with a twist of my own. I have a very obedient garden. When I plant a seed or a plant, I lovingly put them in the ground and then I say, “Live or die, durn you!” And, they always or the other. If they live, they become a plant. If they die, they become compost. Either way, they add to the success of my garden and give me the feeling I might actually be learning something about gardening!

So, my dears, ponder how you feel about gardening. Is it something other people do? If you do garden, what do you grow and why?

1 comment:

  1. You & I certainly agree on the gardening ....How many times have I planted a seed or plant or talked with it and hoped it would live....Still it might not be seen by our eyes..but it does add to the compost in the earth....Gardening is my "salvation" for these old twisting hands from the RA that is in my body..But give me a pile of dirt or weeds and some lovely weather and I will be out there Praising God for the wonders He performs every day......Today so many people are talking about the Groundhog ...I just say we are one day closer to Spring....Bring it on ..this old gal is ready to "play" in the dirt.