I don’t understand why I don’t classify myself as a gardener — I think when you tend four separate gardens on your land, you have to accept that moniker. I guess it may be because I have met some outstanding gardeners in my life; my neighbor and mother-in-law, to name a few. They can tell you the name of every plant in their garden (and yours), know when to plant what, and when to cut them back. Every year I am surprised at what comes up where. And except for hostas, morning glories, and sunflowers, I have to pause before I name my flowers (and I’m usually wrong).
But then I think what matters most about flowers is how they make you feel. I love seeing my sunflowers peeking over a fence. And although my morning glories get to be a menace by mid-July, I can’t bring myself to cut them all back. The miracle of plants never ceases to amaze me.
I remember digging our first garden with Eddie and the joy he took in poking each seed into the dirt, then tending to it with water and weeding. When the first sprouts appeared he was amazed. We watched with much anticipation as the blossoms bloomed, then seemed to morph into vegetables. Those first years we stuck to corn, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Tom was fascinated as a little guy when, while eating corn-on-the-cob, he noticed how each kernel looked “just like the seed we planted!”
In later years we branched out to beans, kale, heirloom tomatoes, hundreds of different kinds of squashes, peppers, and even potatoes. I’ve read dozens of gardening books, but seem to learn best by trial and error. One year I let the kids plant the seeds in starter kits and when I went to transplant them, discovered they had been mislabled. That was fun! It was also the year I mistook a pumpkin for a watermelon and chopped it off the vine for some 4th of July eating. My neighbor has never let me forget that!