"I'm not really a career person.I'm a gardener,basically.".....George Harrison

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Everything I Ever Learned About Gardening.......

I learned from my soon-to-be 90 year old father. I learned some things about gardening from my mother,too.Like how to grow a new rose bush from just a cutting,how to keep ants off of peonies,how to grow an African Violet from just a leaf,and Lily-of-the-Valley is the bestest smelling flower ever.(The whole rose and African violet things never really sunk in-I can kill either of those plants just by looking at them.).Roses like it when you throw your old tea bags on them,and they love cut-up banana peels(that one works in Florida,too).Get rid of aphids by throwing dirty dishwater on them.But I think her favorite plant,next to the peonies,was the glads.She loved them.She even grew them after they moved to Florida.I have never been able to get into growing them-they remind me too much of funerals.Sorry,Mom.

But the most knowledge came from my dad.He was an executive with GTE/Sylvania,so I think gardening was his escape from the business world.During the summer(we lived up north, in Western New York),the minute he got home,he would head to his vegetable garden.In the winter,he headed to his greenhouse.My mother used to say,"Your father walks in the front door looking like the cover of Esquire,and walks out the back door looking like a farmer."

From him,I learned how to collect marigold,zinnia,and daisy seeds.How to compost("the correct way"-Heaven forbid it should be done wrong!).He grew huge zucchinni,and his tomatoes were the best!I can remember sitting in his garden,with my mother,holding a salt shaker and eating tomatoes fresh off the vine."Don't tell your father.We'll blame it on the birds."
From him,I learned strips of tin foil hanging off the tomato plants will keep blue jays and mockingbirds away.Or thread black string through the plants.That one confuses the birds.
"The only way you get rid of tomato horn worms is to pick 'em off,and smash 'em with a rock.Otherwise they'll kill your plant." I'm still working on that one.....

Over thirty-five years ago,they retired to St.Petersburg(I soon followed),and the gardening continued.He learned gardening in Florida was much different than gardening in Western New York.He brought his orchid collection with him,and discovered orchids love living outside,in Florida.He also discovered tropical fruit trees and plumeria(they would go to Hawaii every year,and he became enamored with them,and brought some cuttings back).Thus,my love and fascination with plumeria was born!
A few years back,after my mother passed away,the house and garden was too much for him to handle,so he willingly moved to an Assisted Living Facility,closer to us.I was lucky enough to get custody of the orchid collection.
And I had much learning to do.His first lesson; "Don't fuss so much!Stick 'em under your oak trees and leave 'em alone.They'll be fine.When they bloom,bring 'em up to enjoy 'em." It took me awhile,but it finally sunk in that he was right.I totally ignore them until they bloom(and they do bloom profusely),at which time they come up to the patio to visit us.When they are done blooming,back they go,under the oak trees.
These are his babies.......

Another one is on the side bar to your right.
He has become the go-to-guy for plumeria for myself and some friends who live in South Florida(some of his cuttings are now growing quite happily down there,and he is pleased as punch about that)."Will you people quit fussing over them!"
The one bit of advice that sticks with me,(hope you've figured this one out),"Quit fussing!Leave 'em alone.Stop smothering them." At least once a week,I call him with a gardening question,and I usually get that same answer.Or,I hear that I need to learn to have patience.......
I'm working on that one,Dad.




9 comments:

A New England Life said...

Look at your dad . . . what a handsome man. Your parents have given you some good advice. Wise people they are, and wonderful of you to know it. Love what your mom said about your dad walking in looking like Esquire magazine and walking out the back door like a farmer : )

What a wonderful legacy to carry on. Will they continue blooming for years on end?

My mom said her grandfather used to put the tomato worms in a can of karosene. Yuk. Have you ever seen what they look like when they change into a moth? It's amazing! They are worth seeing!

Sorry to hear of your mom's passing. Hopefully your dad will be with you a while yet.

And how do you keep ants of Peonies??? I always have them crawling all over the kitchen table. LOL!

ChrisC and JonJ said...

You cut them first thing in the morning,and soak them in a bucket of water all day.Then you bring them into the house.I swear it works.My mother never had ants on any peonies she brought into the house.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

What a wonderful gift to have a dad who is also a gardener! I remember visiting my mom's uncle, as a child--his garden was the center of all conversations. At the time, I didn't appreciate it at all. My mother was a gardener, and still is-what little she can do now; my dad passed away in
2005, but mom insisted on staying where she is. With a big yard, her gardening isn't what it used to be, but she still loves looking at it and being outside, doing what she can manage. I got most of my garden love from my mother. I love the wisdom your dad passed on to you;-)

Tink *~*~* said...

Patience... well, you know me long enough to know it ain't my strong suit, either. If you find some, will you share?

;)

Tink *~*~*

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Tink-I can get you plenty of patients,but not so much patience. If I had some(patience,that is),I would gladly share.

Gayle said...

Your flowers are amazing. I wish I had spent more time learning about gardening from my mother. She had amazing flowers, but I was young and too busy! Now she's in CA and I don't see her. I can't wait to see your place in full bloom.

Dani said...

Your mom and dad sound like wonderful people. And he's right, I fuss way too much over some things in the garden. Just need to leave them be. :)

Robert V. Sobczak said...

The older I get, the more I think about what and how much I've learned from my father ...

Meems said...

This was such a fun post to read, Chris. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man of the garden.Sounds like a great growing up experience. I wish folks like him would write these things down - they need to be preserved. I guess that's kind of what you did here... good for you. Really enjoyed this post.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails