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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gardens are like autobiographies.

Brian, noticing the height of things. My boys, Scott and Brian found themselves helping me in the garden early in their respective lives. Mostly, with moving stuff, positioning stuff, building paths, digging holes, chopping down long limbs, transporting rocks. I could tell you who did what and when as I walked around the property.

I did nothing to get them to love gardening besides accepting their help. Yet, each of them went on to  build gardens in their own houses, transforming arid stretches of Southern California into beautiful landscape, for food growing, for beauty, for recreation.

My daughter Pia came late to gardening. She preferred to spend any home time she had (she was busy with lots of hobbies) playing piano, dancing, reading...  It was in her adult years when she saw how easy it all happened when a few plants of tomatoes began to branch out and produce bowlful of delicious stuff.  Now, even with deer climbing into her patio, she grows a few pots of lettuce, peas, arugula, and of course tomatoes.

When I visit them, or when they visit me, pots of something growing, basil, oregano, sage travel along. For a few months, herbs create a Mediterranean smell in their kitchen in no time. Later, the pots move outdoors, plants move to a sunny place or to a bigger pot on a sunny porch.

Even after I moved to Oregon, even during our rainy season, we have protected sunny spots to grow herbs and other perennials through winter months. Parsley does extremely well, as do sage, mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme.  I have managed to grow and keep my herbs around until they go to seed, then snip, dry and use them in my recipes the rest of the year. The seeds go into a special envelope and get replanted for a new season.

Like a visual and sensual autobiography a garden relates us to our past, to our wishes and hopes, to the memories we build together. Wherever I go, a fig tree or two get planted, perhaps an olive tree also. Then, lots of herbs, enough for everyday use and to give out as gifts. I may be far from all I love, but our love of gardening keep us close. Our use of certain herbal remedies, like lemon and honey on days when a sore throat is threatening, will keep us together as well.



18 comments:

Brian Miller said...

smiles...it is fruit trees that have followed me to every house we have lived....gotta have my fruit....and a pepper garden...pretty cool that it has caught on to everyone...we grew up with a garden as well and tending it...

Helen said...

I love this image of Brian ... matching shirt and all! I miss having a garden, living in a townhome my only option is container plantings. Which I have tried and failed with, miserably.

Joani said...

I love that you mention a fig tree. I, too, love figs. At my grandmothers there was a fig tree by the tank of water and up at the spring there was a fig tree. Boy, did us kids eat them. And, my aunt from that side doesn't even like feeds unless they are cooked. I've been planting for our fall entourage as the weather is getting cooler. This is one of the two times of year I love. My grandparents gardened in the spring but I don't remember the fall. Probably cuz they were bushed from putting up all the fruit from the trees. Thanks for sharing yours. Hugs.

Terra said...

We do express ourselves in our garden, and looking at ours, one might think I am messy! I prefer the words wild and creative. LOL

becky said...

You inspire me to get to work on an herb garden in Florida next month...winter is the growing season there so maybe I'll be successful. So far, in my life, my gardening has been purely decorative or architectural. Time to start eating what I plant, don't you think?

ds said...

I have an herb garden--if pots and planters on a three-foot wide deck can be termed a garden--and it is such a joy. As you have done with your children, my mother annually presents me with a variety of herbs (this is how an obsession began, one of the joys of a spring birthday), and I have given pots of various things to people. In late afternoon on a summer day, the aroma is bliss. Talk about herbal therapy ; )

Love the picture of Brian; perfect shirt choice!

She Writes said...

Jane and I have a flower garden this year. I hope we have many more. We ate our mint and cilantro and felt like kings (or queens). I also hope I walk among her plants one day when I wasn't there to plant.

erin said...

and you stay close to the earth. what would we be without the earth or one another? our small stories, our webs, form in this way. and then of course in the eating of your savoury dishes too:)))

xo
erin

Rob-bear said...

A garden is a story of form and shape, colour and contrast, texture and odour, created with a design (or no design) in mind. It speaks of the character and manner of the gardener.

Your autobiography is amazing!

RNSANE said...

I really enjoyed this post and hearing about your children and their entre into gardening. Neither of my three sons, including Alex, the middle and only married one, is interested...at least, not now...in planting and sowing. Laura, Alex's wife, is too exhausted from 12 hr paramedic shifts to do more than buy occasional bouquets for the house.



Kerry said...

Herbs are fun to grow; even though I'm an awful gardener I can manage some herbs. Mint seems to grow anywhere!

Wherever I've moved I have always tried to grow rhubarb. I have some here in Oregon, but it did best in Wisconsin.

Maggie May said...

Some herbs seem to love the conditions in my garden, while others really struggle. Most come from sunnier climes and my garden doesn't have continual sunshine so I suppose thats the answer really.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Wonderful picture of Brian with the garden and how great you have passed on your love of gardening to all your children. Gardens can be so many things to us, including ways to heal. I remember how friends and family worked together to build a memory garden for Brian and, in the context of this lovely post, it seems even more touching and fitting. I hear you keeping a bit of Italy with you -- with figs and olives and, of course, lovely tomatoes. I can just smell and taste it all in your post -- and it's simply delicious, every word of it!

Ruth said...

I love the continuity you describe, and the foundation it is for familial life and love. I see our daughter doing this now too. But to truly use every last leaf, and seed, and bring it into the next season is a beautiful goal. I'm inspired. Thank you.

yaya said...

I think we tend to try and recreate what made us happy in our youth. Your sons must have found the garden work comforting as well as exhausting and it probably reminded them of you and home. I think the more of ourselves we invest in the garden, the more we love it and it blooms better!

Hilary said...

The nurturing of a garden is much like the nurturing of family. It has such fine rewards. I haven't the greenest of thumbs but we did plant a tree to commemorate each of my sons' births.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Our children loved having a big garden when they were growing up and were always outside. Now though neither of them have yet had the opportunity to have much time for gardens, maybe one day.

janis said...

When the girls were quite small, we planted several saplings. Hubby took a picture of the girls (ages nearly 2 & 4) standing next to them. Twenty years later I happen to drive past the old house and smiled at the beauty and height these tress have gained. I need to ask permission & get the girls to take another picture next to them.
I havent gardened in some time. I should start again... just work through the allergies
Love to you Rosaria~