My First Garden


I’ve read other gardeners’ accounts of how they fell into gardening.  I often see that someone’s family—mother, father, grandparents—influenced them.  I think that’s pretty cool.

How did you fall into gardening?  Or maybe you haven’t yet?  If you’re going to have a habit, gardening ain’t a bad one!  (Okay, well, it does interfere with dusting and having a clean house in general, but we won’t go there.)

The benefits of gardening are so many…the joy and sadness of creating something, better health, light exercise, helping wildlife, being a part of nature and not just watching it from afar…  This link sums it up well.

I could, right now, give you photos of brown and green from my garden because we’re heading into winter.  However, you probably don’t need a lesson in the various shade of brown a fall garden can become, and while I wish I had pretty gold-colored grasses to show you, I don’t.  At least, not yet.

So instead of showing you 50 Shades of Brown…I’ll tell you the two ways I fell into gardening.

As a teenager, I attended an English boarding school in Europe.  I was not interested in gardening back then. Not. One. Bit.  I also wasn’t interested in becoming a well-rounded person although, God knows, the boarding school tried to push us in that direction by taking us to art museums, theater productions, poetry readings, and exposing us to live classical music.  Some of this stuck and some didn’t.

Anyway, one year before we all went away for the summer, the school invited us to plant individual garden plots.  The school employed a gardener on staff, and he created quite a few, side by side, garden beds of approximately 5’ x 8’.  This was kind of like a community garden.

Most of my schoolmates rushed to pick out and plant their plot.  The staff gardener handed out all sorts of veggie seeds—carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  I ignored the rush because I thought I wasn’t interested.

What I didn’t realize then, that I do now, was the purpose behind the offer:  Students would do the work of planting seeds in the plots under the guidance of the staff gardener, and then those who lived year-round on the grounds would reap the benefits of summer veggies.  Very clever!

A week before we were to leave for summer break, I changed my mind and decided I, too, wanted to plant a garden.  I don’t remember why I changed my mind.

By then, all of the veggie seeds were gone.  I was told the staff gardener would leave the potting shed unlocked for me to go in and grab seeds, and he did, but he wasn’t there to guide me.  At 14, I had no clue about gardening.

Lying on the potting bench were packets of flower seeds such as bachelor buttons and other annuals I no longer remember the names of.  Actually, the names were all in Dutch.

With no one to guide me, I grabbed a bunch of seed packets, found an unclaimed plot, and sprinkled my seeds on it. I didn’t know what I was planting or doing.

I don’t remember what I did that summer, but when I returned to school, I was greatly surprised.

I’m sure I didn’t head over to my garden plot immediately.  I was a teenager, after all. However, when I did go to the gardens, the sight of my tiny plot brought me joy.

My schoolmate’s garden plots were long past their prime.  The vegetable plants had given up their harvest and turned brown or tan, much like my veggie patch is now. In contrast, my plot was rich in various hues of blue, red, pink, white and of course green.  Wow.  It was so pretty and delicate.  I couldn’t get over it.  My plot was the only patch of color in the entire area.  Procrastination had blossomed into something GOOD, and I’ll never forget it.

And of course my husband had a humongous influence on my addiction. After all, he transmitted his gardening encephalitis virus to me.  An injury (torn knee ligament) cut hubby’s amateur sports career of judo and beep baseball short. He replaced it with gardening.  His grandmother had been a gardener, and my husband seemed to be born with a natural green thumb.  There’s actually more to this story, but I need to keep it short.

So that’s how I fell into it.  What about you?  Not gardening?  Need a push into the green gene pool?  Grin.

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