Column, Looking Back

Time to plant your garden

The summer season officially starts for many of us on Memorial Day weekend.

It seems to be the official date to plant our flower and vegetable gardens.

I remember when I was first married I would buy a few annuals and plant them in my one and only flower garden. I was in the midst of doing just that over 30 years ago when a neighbor came over and asked if I would be interested in a few perennials. She was dividing hers and as I came to realize later in life, it’s hard to throw them away. She explained that I could divide them over time and get more flowers. Now that sounded like quite the deal!

My neighbor chose daisies and coreopsis as the first flowers that started me on the path to perennial gardening.

Apparently I was at the stage in my life where connecting with nature had some appeal. I found that I enjoyed digging in the dirt. The following spring I anxiously looked for little green shoots to pop up where I had planted the perennials. Sure enough, they had survived the winter cold and were there to greet me. I was hooked!

As time went by I didn’t need annuals in the garden because word must have spread that a new gardener had been born! Other neighbors offered me perennials and before long I found myself creating new gardens to hold the plants I divided.

I soon became a gardener who hated to throw away divided plants. That school of thought led to about a dozen gardens before I realized that I had to start discarding plants that I couldn’t pass along to others … either that or our lawn would disappear!

I found gardening to be a great stress reliever. When I came home from work a little time in the garden came to be a source of relaxation. On weekends, the bigger gardening projects became something I looked forward to.

Back “in the day” my father was an avid gardener. So it must be in my genes! He dedicated the back 75’x50’ of the lot adjoining our house to growing vegetables. Like many gardeners, we grew much more than we could eat so neighbors and friends were recipients of the extras.

Watching something grow from seed is pretty fascinating for a child. Spending time with my parents was always fun. I’m sure I didn’t plant the seeds exactly as the package recommended but with some guidance and a helping hand everything got planted. The rows of corn were the most fun as they were tall compared to the height of us kids, making that spot in the garden a great place for hide and seek.

Life was pretty simple in the 50s. Kids were outdoors most of the day and a row of corn was just as fascinating back then as a row of computer keys is to kids today.

Teaching young people where their food comes from is a good lesson to learn. When they watch something grow it is much more apt to be appealing than taking it out of a grocery bag.

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional planting time, you might want to divide some perennials that weekend and pass them along to a neighbor or friend. There are memories associated with perennials that gradually come to light over time. Someone told me recently that when they move they want to take their flowers with them. In reality they are taking the memories of the people who gave them the flowers. Each year as they come into bloom, the donors will be remembered. This is particularly meaningful when those people have either moved away or passed from our lives.

The recent wind storm that hit Rutland uprooted the lilac bush that my father planted when my parents bought my family home 72 years ago. I was hoping that a little shoot would remain so I could plant that. But there was none to be found. That particular bush was the source for May crowning flowers at church when I was a student at Christ the King School. It also provided beautiful lilacs for numerous cemetery containers over the years.

As my cousin Loyola used to say, “Nothing lasts forever.” The truth in that statement became a reality when Mother Nature removed a sentimental part of history from our yard.

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