A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gardens in My Past

Carol of May Dreams Gardens has invited everyone to share pictures of their first gardens. I don't have any pictures of my first garden, but I do have a couple of photos of gardens I created years ago. I did a post about them back in February 2005. Here it is again:

I was filling out an application for the Master Gardener certification program the other day and got stuck on the question asking why I wanted to do it. I garden like I breathe, automatically without thinking about it. I had never tried to analyze why it is that I must garden.

A home without a garden is not a home to me. We moved around a lot when I was growing up. My mother planted gardens at every single house we lived in. My first garden when I was in elementary school was a tiny corner of one of her flower beds. It probably measured less than 3' by 3'. I don't remember many details about that garden, just that all the flowers were planted in rows according to height. It has taken me many years to stop planting in rows. It was also the best weeded garden I ever had because it was so small. The next garden I remember was when I was in junior high school. That one was memorable because of the green zinnias. I was fascinated by flowers that were green. I still grow green zinnias and I remain fascinated by green flowers. Two years ago I started a flower bed composed completely of green flowers.

A couple of years ago while going through an old photo album, I found pictures of a garden I planted when I was in high school. Up until that day, I had only vague memories of it. All I remembered was that it was round and dug around a bird feeder. The picture took my breath away. There were the same sunflowers, hollyhocks, cosmos, bachelor buttons and pansies I grow today. I never realized my attachment to those flowers was lifelong.


As a single adult, I lived in various apartments with no yards to garden in. I forced bulbs indoors. I grew flowers in containers on fire escapes. At no time did it ever occur to me to not garden.

I moved into my first home in September of 1985. I didn't even finish unpacking before I was outside planting bulbs for the following spring. My then husband was horrified. He felt it was not an appropriate activity for a woman who was 8 months pregnant.


After the divorce, I moved into my second home in August of 1995. I was so ill with Lyme disease, friends had to unpack for me. There was no bulb planting. I could only muster enough energy to buy a few mums from a local nursery. One of those plants still survives. I was thrilled the following spring to discover daffodils that had naturalized in the front of the house.

Raising a troubled child has consumed my life, virtually destroying it but through all the difficult years, my gardens have been my refuge. I have experimented with different plants and planting techniques. I have settled on growing heirlooms. I have started a small collection of heirloom rosebushes. Last year I started my collection of heirloom bulbs. I have experimented with color gardens, theme gardens, herb gardens, vegetable gardens and compost. I have planted to attract beneficial insects, butterflies and birds. I was thrilled to find a garter snake in my shed last year. I haven't seen a snake since I moved to New Jersey over 20 years ago. I hold out hope for a toad, something else I haven't seen in this overpopulated and polluted state.

So why do I want obtain a Master Gardener certification and then lend that expertise to the community as a volunteer? Because gardening is what I do. It's who I am.

4 Comments:

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Carol said...

OldRoses... thank you for sharing your story with us. It is interesting how some of the habits we learned when we were young gardeners and how the flowers we grew keep showing up, even subconsciously, in our gardens today.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

 
At 10:20 PM, Blogger Carolyn gail said...

God bless you, Old Roses, and what you do. No one knows what burdens we bear and yet, the peace and tranquility of being in our own gardens shines through.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger No Rain said...

You are a true gardener at heart. I hope you enjoy your MG program. I went through it for the same reasons you stated, and I gained so much knowledge. Volunteering is great too.
Aiyana

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

What an enlightening post. I always thought you were an amazing person and that story helps me understand why.

I never ceased to be amazed at the power of gardening. I sometimes forget how lucky I am to be able to spend all day in the garden. There are plenty of ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for any other profession.

God Bless you and your garden.

 

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