Gardening is about living life using all of one’s senses, and being made feel complete, by all its activities.
I was blessed to be raised in farming family where growing vegetables, flowers and crops was a way of life. Where the majority of our day was spent outside, caring for animals, tending gardens, planting and harvesting crops in season, and living simply in harmony with nature, to sustain our family life.
My earliest memories of finding pleasure in gardening is as a small child, scrambling up the steep steps to my grandparent’s summer kitchen, to sit on the very top step so I could bury my face into the abundant blooms of the Golden Glow Rudbeckia; or in spring time, making my way carefully along the broken walkway at the front of the farmhouse, letting the ferns brush my bare legs, all the while picking a handful of Bleeding Hearts. My Grandma had a huge vegetable garden from which she prepared family meals, then at harvest, pickled and preserved to fill the cold cellar. Aunt Hazel’s geraniums reached to the top of her windows, and bloomed boisterously in a vast array of colours all winter. She had the gift of taking a slip of any plant, firmly planting in a pot, where it always grew and flourished.
Later, there would be the trays of seedlings that my mom would start on our farmhouse windows, then the large vegetable garden with the assigned chores of weeding. Our family garden was planted row upon row of vegetables with zinnias, asters, and cosmos dispersed throughout. My mother took great pride in her Stormont County Fair entries of vegetables and flowers, as did I, when I came of an age to contribute. Back in the corner of the pasture, behind the barn, was the yellow transparent apple tree that provided the perfect fruit for Mom’s prize winning apple pie at the fair.
Such treasured sensory memories are of running barefoot between the rows in the garden, and wearing a plastic garbage bag with head and arm holes cut out, while I transplanted with my mother in the scotch mist of rain, to lessen the shock of the seedlings being planted into the garden. There were the firsts of the garden that brought with them rising levels of excitement. The first pod of peas to unzip, count the peas and then devour; the first ripened tomato for a sandwich at lunch; the pungent smell of the first marigold opening; the chasing of the first butterflies flitting from flower to flower; the first sign of a cucumber on the vine, and a pumpkin blossom to focus on, for growing on to become our jack-o-lantern. Through the years, there were summer jobs on a strawberry farm, and the picking of wild blackberries and raspberries from picky rambling canes that lined the lane to the cow pasture.
These are all life experiences that still make me smile, and give roots to my being.