Like most gardeners, my passion was passed down from grandmother to mother and mother to me. They weren’t fancy horticulturists looking for just the right specimen to impress and amaze. They were mothers busy taking care of home and children and planting pansies by the mailbox and tomatoes out the back porch. Pretty good training.
Of the traditions I have carried on are two: 1) plant herbs near the kitchen door like Grandma and 2) take a moment to enjoy the gardens from Mom.
Outside my grandmother’s backdoor near the kitchen and pantry was a small stonewalled enclosure that didn’t have a lot of space or a lot of sun due to some fairly massive oak trees. But she would tuck her chives, parsley, oregano and other herbs right where she could snip them for whatever she was cooking. Grams would take the grandkids out and break off a piece of this or that for us to taste and smell – with a guessing game of “what is this?” My favorite was her huge mint stand that always seemed to have a hover of butterflies over it. My herb garden has many of the same wonderful plants as Grandma’s and I, too, prefer to cook with fresh herbs.
My dad is an intense man driven to succeed, which meant that (prior to retirement) he worked long hours and sometimes came home hyped from work. Mom and Dad would make a cocktail before dinner and wander the yard and gardens with kids trailing along behind. They talked about their days, plans coming up, the children, anything… just so Dad had a little bit of time to settle back into home and Mom could check on her gardens. I never understood these backyard trips believing it might have been a good idea to stay indoors where we could watch TV, but along with my four siblings I followed the parental units.
Now, married for nearly 30 years, it makes perfect sense. My husband and I carry on the tradition on Friday or Saturday nights. He pours himself a Guinness and me a Chardonnay and we do a circuit around our one-acre property. We talk about the day, life, news, plans, etc. And I point out what is coming up and about to bloom, what may need to be cut back or split, and what might need a little more nurturing. It helps us stay connected. Mom is a smart woman.