I was just over at Rose’s blog and the very first photo on her ABC Wednesday post instantly sent me reeling backwards 37 years. Seeing the picture of her grandson brought forth memories of my past that have not surfaced in quite some time. It brought such a happy light feeling to my heart I wanted to share these thoughts with you.
My first introduction to gardening came when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We lived in the outskirts of town; the houses weren’t right up under each other like they are these days. Everyone in that area has lived on the same stretch of road since their childhood. My father lives in a house now that was built less than 200 yards from where a little two room shack was where he was born. He’s lived on the same three mile stretch of highway his entire life. So long in fact, he used to drive the mules and wagon to the mill on the same road. Get the picture? Three homes down the road, which was only a few hundred yards, lived an elderly lady named Louise Parker. Mrs. Parker was a widow woman that owned almost two hundred acres of land with horses and a pond that was located behind our house. She loved flowers and I remember her yard was filled with them. She always used the aged manure from the horse barn as compost to amend her beds.
I’m really not sure why she began doing this, but one summer she called up to the house and told momma to send me and my little red wagon down to her house because she needed my help. I grabbed my western flyer and down the road I headed. Mrs. Parker would take me down to the barn and we would use my wagon to haul compost back to her flower beds. We would work all day in her yard. She taught me how to sow seeds and grow them. She also taught me how to plant them in the ground and how to transplant larger plants. To this day when I put a new plant in the ground I always do it just like Mrs. Parker showed me when I was just a little boy. As I sit here typing I still see her in her big floppy sun hat explaining everything to me step by step as she did it. At the end of every garden day she would always send me home with a potted plant or seeds as payment for my help. On Friday afternoons she would always walk up to our house to look at my plants and brag about how much they had grown and how pretty they were.
How did she know? I had brothers and sister and there were other kids in our neck of the woods. She even had her own grandchildren, so why did she pick me? Why do I garden? I garden because it is in my blood. I can’t walk past a pretty flower with out stopping to look at it. I would rather spend money on a new plant than much needed clothes. I don’t eat out, drink or take vacations because I would rather replace those costs with purchase of a new tree or daylily. I risk heatstroke nearly every summer to pull weeds, remove dead foliage and trim perfect grass borders. I garden because it is what feeds my soul and I could not imagine my free time spent any other way. To top it all off I’ve been sent Jamie to spend my life with and he loves gardening just as much.
Mrs. Parker remarried and moved away and I haven’t seen her for many, many years. I don’t even know if she is still alive, she would have to be in her 90’s. I have a wonderful garden now, I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of garden articles published and I have even been asked by botanical gardens to use photos that I’ve taken while on visits in their publicity campaigns. All this happened because of a very special seed that was sown in a little boy’s spirit many years ago. Daily, our actions and statements change and shape peoples lives and we never even know it. I wish Mrs. Parker knew what an impact she had on mine. I hope I haven’t bored you with my nostalgia. :-) Why do you garden? When did you start?