Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Education in Gardening

I love to garden and though I love to see foxgloves bloom and my rudebeckia smiling in the sun, my heart really belongs to the vegetable garden, not the perennial garden. The perennial garden is mostly ignored. I'll weed it. I'll put in new plants when there is space, but it doesn't get a lot of my caring attention.

My main energy goes to my vegetables and a few fruits that I have. Most gardeners are the other way around. They may have a pot or two of tomatoes, but their flowers are their love. Why? It might be in my blood since for generations my family farmed, but it might be how I was brought up.

I grew up in the mountains of Colorado. We had lots of flowers there, but none of them were planted by my mother (the gardener in the family). There was no landscaping of the yard, no mown grass or carefully arranged perennials. It was a natural pine forest with a few meadows. Past the handful of acres that my parents owned was a national forest. In the spring the meadows would be covered in flowers: Indian paintbrush, phlox, bluebells, and so many more. Often the ground was painted in blues, fushias, reds and yellows, depending on the season and the level of rainfall. That kind of beauty to me was always painted by nature.

My dad was a bit of a survivalist. One of my chores was learning what was edible in our backyard. As a child this was great fun. One year I picked choke cherries and my mother made wine out of them. Another year I found the nodding onions. I made my mother cook them up in something. I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't very good. There is a look-a-like plant to the wild onion that isn't very good for you. So the only way to tell the difference was when the onion was in bloom. Onions get a little bitter and tough when they bloom. So nature also provided some of our food, if it wasn't the best tasting.

But nature certainly didn't provide it all. My mother had a large vegetable garden. I joked with my friends that it was a small farm. I hated the garden when I had to weed and loved it when I got to pick the strawberries. The geese were mean, but it was fun hunting for eggs in their run that they shared with the ducks.

So from my dad I got the importance of being able to feed yourself. From my mother I got the love of vegetable gardening. No one taught me that flowers were a worthwhile endevor. I do love flowers mind you, but we are products of our history and my family is filled with practical people. And there is something ineffable about preparing a meal for your family with food that you have grown yourself.


  1. Very nice Daphne and yes the food made of things you have actually grow yourself from seed taste so delicious. LOL Tyra see you soon again.

  2. I'm the same way. I love my vegetable garden and it takes up most of my time. I pay very little attention to the front "flower" beds, I hardly have any flowers, just a few herbs amongst roses, bushes, and irises that were planted there long long ago.

  3. Hi Daphne, found my way here via the Artist's Garden's Why-blog? post. I love your mix of interests, love meeting people who sit right between arts n sciences (like me - confused my careers teacher when at school, lol).

    And i love that you have loads of posts on eggplants as i am meaning to grow some, but indoors in a pot. I will learn from your blog, being a plant lover who has never yet grown a vegetable. I get hung up on the weird n wonderful; planning to blog about some of those soon.

    Great blog, glad to find you.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way.

    mand: nice to meet you. I was very focused in school until Junior year. Then I had my professors trying to talk me out of going to art school.

    I hope you try to grow your own sometime. It is a lot of fun to eat food that you grow yourself.

  5. What a lovely post today Daphne. Thanks for sharing how you came to love growing your own fruits & veggies. Your parents passed down a nice legacy to you. :)