A Garden Memory

Girl Among the Hollyhocks, by John Hafen (1902)

We are traveling this week to visit my 96-year-old mother. She’s an amazing person! At 96, she still is sharp as a tack, goes to exercise class four days a week (“you’ve got to keep moving,” she says), walks to her library and post office using the walker she bought herself. Simply put, she is my role model for a life well-lived and my mentor for how to age gracefully.

My mother was a wonderful gardener, so my enjoyment of flower gardens started at a very young age. I remember playing with the Four O’Clocks she planted next to the house– the flower turned upside down looked like a skirt, so I created little “dolls” with dandelions for head and body, and Four O’Clocks for the dresses. I remember the smell of marigolds and the “snap” of snapdragons. And I remember roses…many different kinds of roses, all so beautiful.

Funny thing, though. I don’t remember my mother ever growing a vegetable garden, although she did a massive amount of canning in the summer. The fruits and vegetables (mostly tomatoes) were bought in bulk from the farmers. I remember July trips to the orchards and farm stands along the highway, and bringing back bushels of peaches, cherries, apricots, tomatoes…  And then days spent bottling. The jars lines the shelves in the basement, fruit and vegetables for the entire winter.

Early garden memories… all of them happy.

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