I began playing in my grandmother’s garden at a very young age. I’m sure I was more a nuisance than a help, but I never remember feeling she was annoyed as I followed her around. Her garden was beautiful to me. A magical place of yard long green beans, row upon row of roses, an orange tree, grapefruit tree, walnut tree, pecan tree and many kinds of flowers all surrounding her old Victorian home.
Summer days revolved around our garden chores. Get up before the Fresno heat hit and set the hoses to run slowly on the big trees. Check to see that the trenches throughout the rose garden were clear and ready to spread the water to each bush. Pick the beans before they get too big and become tough and stringy.
I remember scents from the garden that delight me even today when I come across them and many flowers that have a special memory from grandmother’s garden. Petunias…visiting the garden lady across the street who showed me how the flowers, if pressed against your t-shirt would stick, as we stood breathing in the sweet scent in her huge petunia patch. Baby’s Breath….collected and used as a filler in the tin cans full of zinnias we took to loved ones graves on Memorial Day.
Roses…quickly picked as a gift for a sick friend. The sweet scent of the ripening concord grapes and the way the skins popped off when you’d suck out the juice. And sweet peas…the wonderful scent of the sweet peas filled her yard. (She collected the seed from wild sweet peas she found at our cabin in the mountains. We spent our summers there planting trees and “wild” gardens.)
I loved to sit on her old garden swing and close my eyes to see if I could identify the different scents, then run in the house and lean over the sink with grandpa, eating fresh tomatoes and peaches whole, juices running everywhere and laughing at the mess.
In the early morning I often woke to the click, click, click of my grandmothers garden shears as she dead headed her roses.
I have those shears today and I love to snap the blades together just to hear that sound. I have her flower frogs and hand trowels, her grass clippers and sprinklers. Many are no longer useful except for the wonderful warm memories they elicit…still, I will keep them till I’m gone, and hope my grandchildren will smile with fondness when they come across them.
Children cannot get memories like this sitting alone watching TV or playing on their iPads.
And that is why I garden. It is why I will teach my little granddaughters to garden, and why I hope you will teach your grandchildren to garden someday. Because everyone should have memories like these…
Forgive me if I seem a little nostalgic…my second granddaughter was born this week and being a gardening grandmother, like my grandmother, has been my life long dream! I can’t wait to get those tiny hands in the dirt; to see the wonder in her eyes when her first bean or sunflower sprouts….to see her share this with her sister and to be a part of their joy!
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Photography by Donna Jones Photography. All rights reserved.