Friday, July 10, 2009

Why Do You Garden?


Veronica Sunny Boder Blue


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?

22 comments:

tina said...

Not bored at all. I always enjoy when bloggers put a piece of themselves out there for their readers. I though you had posted about Mrs. Parker before though? Maybe another blogger. I enjoyed the whole story. I garden for many of the same reasons. I began at about the age of 3 in my grandmother's garden and have always stuck with it. I like creating and I like the outside. Gardening is most rewarding in all aspects. Your post was lovely.

Tootsie said...

I have loved plants and gardens since I can remember! I got to have a small area in my mom's garden when I was about 5 years old. It was so much fun....I still have my tiny rake that they bought for us to use in our area!!!

Jamie and Randy said...

Tina,
I'm sure at some point I have mentioned Mrs.Parker before. She was such a large part of my love of gardening. I don't think I've done a post, but I may very well have commented on your blog about it. You probably said something that made it all come rushing back just like Rose's photo. You got an even earlier start than me. My grandmother gardened too, but I never had the pleasure of working beside her. I took a very long break from gardening once, but that's a whole nother post.:-)

Tootsie! How cool is it that you still have your little rake.I hope you have it put away in a safe place.--Randy

Frances said...

Hi Randy, this was absolutely fabulous! I loved hearing about Mrs. Parker and could imagine every single detail that you explained. What a gift she was to your life, and you to hers. She sounds like a fine example of how we should live our lives and you have followed in her footsteps with your kind and generous nature. As a child in Tulsa, we lived in an older neighborhood that was full of widows with gardens. The lady next door would give me plants for my birthday each year in April, lucky month!, and help me plant them and water them. My grandmothers also gardened, but it was this neighbor who planted the seed. I am just like you, I would rather spend every penny on plants and work to exhaustion every day in the garden than anything else in the world. We can't not garden. :-)
Frances

Jamie and Randy said...

Frances,
I'm sure you were tickled to death with your birthday presents every year.:-)I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I'm always concerned when I babble on for so long that folks will lose interest.:-)--Randy

Roses and Lilacs said...

What a great story. We never know what little thing we may do or say that will make a lifelong impression on someone else. I believe black dirt and compost flows in my blood. I gardened with my parents and my grandmother. Later had to do chores that I resented at the time but now am glad I learned.
Marnie

Jamie and Randy said...

Marnie,
We had a garden when I was growing up with peas, butterbeans and what have you. I'd rather take a butt whipping then have to go to that pea patch. I would grumble and complain the entire time. But I never minded spending all day in the heat working with flowers. LOL--Randy

sweet bay said...

Wonderful story Randy. Mrs. Parker must have seen a kindred spirit although you were very young.

Why do I garden? I don't have a choice! LOL

Wayne said...

A very good story! I wish you could track Mrs Parker down. She would love to see what you've done. I started as a young boy too. I wanted to make our house look a little nicer so I planted a lot of annuals along side the house and driveway, only to have them do terrible in the crappy dirt. But that as the beginning of the 'bug'!

Marilyn Jones said...

Oh, Randy! What a good story! I have the same stuff running in my blood. I get up in the morning wanting to know what's new in the garden today. I, too, risk heat stroke to get out there and pull weeds and prune. I love every minute of it, even though it makes me hurt. I don't remember when my love for it started. It seems that it just grew in me over time. Then when I saw beautiful Iris, I was really hooked. I'm glad you have Jamie who supports your endeavors. It's so important for a happy gardening life!

Gail said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of Mrs Parker and gardening....it's a wonderfully sweet story. I grew up with a non-gardening single parent, but before my parents separated we lived in the country and my dad had a huge garden...It must certainly be genetic; all of my sisters love to garden, too. gail

Les said...

That is a great story. How fortunate you were to have someone like that in your life. As a parent, I appreciate when someone takes an interest in my child and gives them something I may not have the time, patience or interest for.

My family moved from a small town agriculutural area to a completely cleared suburb in Richmond, and my parents spent the next 25 years turning that blank slate into a little piece of what we left behind. I guess my interest in gardening is in my DNA.

Darla said...

What a wonderful story. I want to be a "Mrs. Parker" one day.

Jamie and Randy said...

Sweetbay,
I feel the same way. It is very time consuming and hard, but I can’t think of anything more gratifying.

Wayne,
I wish I could find Mrs. Parker too. I actually asked my mom if she knew anything about where she might be and she said she hasn’t heard anything in over twenty years.

Marilyn,
About that pain, I use to have a dear elderly friend that had horrible back pain and her kids were constantly on her to slow down with her gardens. (She had HUGE flower beds everywhere) Her response was, “I figure I’ll rust out quicker than I’ll wear out so I’m just going to keep going till I can’t!”

Well you know Gail, some people believe we are descendants of two major tribes, Atlantean and Lemurian. Supposedly the Lemurian were a very peaceful and loving people that truly loved nature, their entire continent was a giant garden. ;-)

Les,
I think you are right it is in your DNA. If more children could be taught about gardening imagine how different the world would be. I’m convinced it would be a better place.

Darla,
I’ve thought the same thing. I actually am Mr. Parker even though I wasn’t related by blood or marriage to Mrs. Parker. --
Randy

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a lovely stroll down Memory Lane. Bored, not a chance. I thoroughly enjoyed your story. You are mightly blessed. I wish I had some particular story that I could relate. My Mother always gardened. I have always gardened. That is about it. I just today read this quote that says it all to me...

"The creation of somthing new is not accomplished by the tntellect, buty by the play instinct acting from innner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." Carl Jung

GardenJoy4Me said...

Randy ... that was a wonderful story with how you have had gardening in your blood since childhood .. Mrs. Parker knew it too ! .. Having a partner that loves it as much as you do is such a blessing too : )
Frankly I am glad my husband appreciates it but doesn't join me (other than trim the grass and help me out with heavy prjects)
I'm selfish .. I want my garden all to myself .. it is the one thing in my life that is totally my creation from all of the reading and ideas I have had .. that sounds awful doesn't it .. to be so selfish ? LOL
I have had an appreciation most of my life for plants .. but moving so often in the military .. I had to leave gardens behine and heaven knows what happened to them.
I truly enjoyed your story : )
Joy

perennialgardener said...

Great memories of how the garden bug bit you! ;) I grew up watching my grandmother garden, she had roses, annuals, perennials and a large veggie patch every year. When hubby & I bought our first house I started planting things & haven't stopped yet, lol! It's in my blood I guess.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, We're home after a wonderful weekend in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. I'll post in the morning.

The "Mrs. Parker" in our life was my mother. She was an excellent gardener. My problem was I never paid much attention until I got older--and then she was gone. Wish she could see my garden now!!!!!

Hope you had a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

Jake said...

I helped my mom untill a few years ago I got into it and she has just let me take over, lol. She didn't know at the time I was going to plant cold hardy Bananas and palms in her KY yard, lol.

I also enjoy science(in school and when I was younger cathcing bugs) and being outside, so it all just was an interest to me.

Me wanting Palms like when we went on vacation a few years ago was the lighter fluid that started the fire.

Jake

Jamie and Randy said...

Thanks everybody! I'm glad you enjoyed my little story and shared your's with me!I'm glad we have this in common. :-)--Randy

Jan said...

What a lovely memory you have a such a sweet lady and what she gave you - a love of gardening.

Jan
Always Growing

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Loved your story. I don't know why I garden. My mom always had a veggie bed when I was growing up but she never involved me in gardening, and in fact, it had kind of the opposite effect. For an unknown reason, I grew a potted tomato plant on the deck of my first condo in ~1989 and you could say that was my gateway plant! I wish I had had a garden mentor, though. I'm seeing some things in my niece now that I like to think comes from me, different things from her nuclear family, seeds I sowed a looong time ago. It is gratifying.