And not just about growing things.
No matter the season in my garden, it always teaches me something new. And not just about plants and soil. Life lessons and skills are reinforced, too.
While not an expert, I am a life long gardener. I learned from my mother, who was an amazing, self-taught gardener. Under her gentle guidance my sister and I experienced first-hand the many joys and occasional disappointments of growing things - beginning as soon as we could hold a trowel (sized our child’s hands) and plant seeds. We each got our very own gardens when we around 5 years old.
Our very wise mother let my sister and I choose the plants we wanted to grow, the start of my lifelong love of growing roses. Garden design was up to us, too. Mom gently guided us with some basic principles - taller plants in back, short in front, medium in the middle. We played with shape, texture and colors. When I was eight years old I planted an all red garden.
Both our gardens were in our front yard for all to see. My mother was as proud of them as her own, often prize winning, garden beds. The year of the red garden, she hosted her garden club. I recall her politely and firmly shutting down criticism of my (to my eyes) stunning red garden by pointing out how important red flowers are to pollinators and how the designer’s choice of all red flowers drew the eye deeper into the yard.
I learned a lot about how to stand up to others that day.
My sister and I learned that success in the garden is a combination of serendipity, hard work, preparation, nurturing, choices and being responsible. We learned to “listen” to what our garden and plants were telling us. As we grew up, we learned that those qualities work outside the garden too. And that sometimes it doesn’t. So we learned to cope with both garden and life failures.
Those first gardens taught us about the cycle of life. My mother taught us to embrace it. We did everything we could to make both short lived annuals and long lived perennials thrive. Compost, regular watering, deadheading, weeding and pinching back were all part of our gardening chores. When a plant failed, we would try to figure out why.
One hot summer’s day my garden died because I’d neglected to water it all week, preferring to hang out at the town pool with friends. Mom helped me salvage what I could, but it took lot of baby-sitting jobs to replace those roses.
I learned a lot about being responsible that day. And my mother, by not yelling, but helping me to revive my garden, taught me about supporting one another.
My mother always had a special garden she called her “Friends and Family” garden. Every plant in it was given by friends or family members or acquired by swapping plants or from her garden club plant sale. Even though this may not have been the most beautiful of her gardens, my mother always said that to her, it was the most beautiful of them all.
I honor my mother by always growing some of her favorites - forget me nots, peonies and roses. And I never, ever neglect to water.
The Hanover Garden Club encourages the love of gardening!
Need plants? Our Plant Sale is Saturday, May 19. Rain or Shine. Our plants are grown and nurtured by our members in their gardens or in our greenhouse.
The Garden Club Plant Shed at Pine Knoll Cemetery
Route 10, Hanover, NH 03777