Monday, February 1, 2016

My Mom Was A Gardener

Some of my earliest memories are of *helping* Mom in the garden. She was one of those farm women who, out of necessity, always raised a large garden and preserved its produce for our consumption during the winter months.
Mom was also something else - a woman who truly loved gardening. During this time of year, every year, the gardening catalogs would arrive. And mother would began poring over them, making her lists of what to order and from which company. And which new, never grown before, seeds to try - purple beans? okra? huckleberries?

Gurney's was one of her favorites, as was Burpee's. Ordering from a Henry Field or Early May catalog was like ordering from a neighbor - both originated in Shenandoah, a town less than fifty miles away and one she had been to many times over the years.

A trip to see the Earl May flower gardens was a destination every year for Mom and for her mother, our Grandma Delphia. Earl May and Henry Field tried to out do one another with their field trial gardens. This photo is of 18-year-old Ruth on the right with Roy and Evelyn Kapple who were the attendants a few months later when Mom married our Dad, Louis.

One of the few photos I have found of Mom with her garden in the background. She had a large garden right up until her final years even though she no longer needed to raise and preserve so much food.
She passed on to me her love of the idea of gardening. As soon as I moved out of an apartment to a home with space enough, I tilled up a garden plot. (We won't go into how successful I was at keeping the garden weeded!) Each year, I, too, would order garden catalogs and pore over them, fantasizing about how that year would be the one I would have the perfect garden.
I no longer have the space for a garden, nor the energy, even though I would be tempted if we had a community garden nearby, and the seed companies no longer have me on their catalog mailing lists. But this time of year I get an itch. Luckily it is one I can scratch by going online.
This past weekend I learned of a new (to me) seed company, I've been looking through their offerings, impressed by their prices and doubly impressed by their craft section. Wouldn't my daughter(s) and some of my granddaughters drool over those temptations?

There is a certain magic to be found from digging in the soil. Mom knew it, I know it. Innately, women have always known it.
Another Ruth, one of Mom's favorite gardening authors, Ruth Stout, said, "I love spring anywhere, but if I could chose I would always greet it in a garden."

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