Saturday, April 9


Give fools their gold and knaves their power,
Let fortune’s bubbles rise and fall…
Who sows a field or trains a flower
Or plants a tree, is more than all.

~~~James Greenleaf Whittier

My godfather sent me this quote recently, and I was amused by the author's name. My maternal great-grandfather changed his name to Samuel Greenleaf Stevens in the early 1900s. He and my great-grandmother ran a dairy in Moore, SC and farmed their entire lives.

I've always said my mother had the greenest thumb of any person I have ever known. I admired her most for this. Most of my earliest as well as last memories of my mother are of her gardening. She drove me nuts when I was younger - you couldn't take a shower in our house without first emptying the shower FULL of plants. Mowing the lawn was a navigational nightmare because she planted things everywhere. I remember elephant ears over our heads, tremendous caladiums, hydrangeas and rose bushes covered with blooms, more greens than I ever want to eat in my lifetime, and more. My mother would bring plants to me in college though I told her I didn't want them. I would purposely not water them, to diassociate myself from her plants and from her, in some way. I didn't get along with my mother at all, and rejecting her plants was a tiny act of rebellion.

My mother and I were never close, but the one thing we could talk about without arguing was gardening. I sought her landscaping advice when we closed on our house in December 2006, but she died unexpectedly in January 2007. I planted a blue hydrangea in her memory, and each year I increase the size of my vegetable garden. I think she would be surprised at the enthusiasm I now have for it, and pleased by it. I feel the closest to her when I garden, but I imagine her laughing at me as well. Each spring I find myself absolutely compelled to get outside and play in the dirt. I cannot resist the siren's call, and I suspect it runs through the blood in my veins.

I searched my hard drive for photographs documenting my mother's horticultural prowess, and turned up very little. I know I have prints . . . somewhere . . . I need to find them and scrap them. For now, here is a photo of my lil sis in front of several pots of caladiums.

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