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.......
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.