Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Memories

Gardening is so much fun in the spring!  Reading seed catalogs has always been a problem for me-I buy more varieties and seed than I could ever plant or cultivate.  But the promise of a bountiful crop and the generally pleasant working weather makes putting in a garden an exhilarating experience.  The first harvest is exciting.
Dad, Bill Absher, really was a master gardener.
Near our Kentucky home is a farm called "June Rich Farm."  That is so descriptive of the season.  As I harvested vegetables and flowers this weekend so many gardening memories flooded my mind.  Dad taught me to garden.  I can remember picking green beans and hauling them on my American Flyer  wagon to the Bluegrass Market in Blacksburg to make a cash sale.  I probably got $0.50 or $1 for my labor and I was pleased.  Dad was always a good gardener even though he work long and hard during the day.  Until he retired he did most of his gardening in the cool of the before-breakfast-time.  Years of building the soil with compost and picking up the big rocks made his garden spot a productive area.  But the deer figured that out to so he had a 6 feet high chain link fence built to protect his crops. Mom called it his "play pen."

Dad's example made me think I needed a garden wherever we lived.  I remember the kids liked to help pick peas but I don't think many made it to the table.  They loved to eat the peas straight out of the hull.
Beth wonders if they were told not to eat the peas on purpose or to get them to eat them since they wouldn't eat cooked ones off the plate.  She said she and David would take turns standing guard and eating peas.  She remembers this happening at our Nicholasville house on Main Street.  Our garden there was mostly on sub-soil and was exposed to all travelers on busy Highway 27 before the by-pass was completed.  Our dentist, Dr. Henkle, monitored our garden and had something to say about it at every visit.

I didn't get into flower gardening much until we moved to Hamlet Hill.  Barbara joined a gardening club and developed a real passion for growing and arranging flowers.  In fact she did the flowers for Chilton Reynolds' wedding about six weeks before she died.  For that event she was more or less the "executive arranger" with Beth and Cindy doing a lot of the work.  Barbara died June 27, 2000.  Flowers were in full bloom.  We got one of her friends to arrange the casket bouquet using as many flowers from our garden as she could.  She used daylilies and refreshed them and hosta blooms, which I had never seen used as cut flowers as well as daisies and a variety of flowers that we had accumulated.  JoAnn Walla and Ruth Warner had given us a lot of plants.

I vividly remember going to the garden early the Sunday morning after Barbara's funeral.  The hymn,"In the garden" rang in my heart's ears.  Then Helmet rode by on his horse and said something to lift my spirits.  But, actually my spirits were pretty high at that point since I knew my wife of 37 years was no longer suffering and was probably in the Lord's garden, and as the verse of that hymn says, "he walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,  And they Joy we share..."

We were gone  this year when daylilies started blooming.  Beth liked to keep tabs on their progress.  She would generally tell us when the first one would bloom, how many had bloomed the second and third days, and usually by the fourth day there would be too many to count.  The daylilies at the end of the house are the only ones planted by the "book."  They came from the Warners and I dug a trench, put sand in the bottom, and did what Southern Living advised.  The cultured lilies along the patio came from Nancy Bowling and they were just planted my way, but they seem to be doing fine.

Kaye and I have really enjoyed gardening together.  One raised bed we developed (or are developing)
we call our "Memory Garden."  It has plants, plaques, figurines, and rocks that have  special meaning to us.
There are two rose bushes in the bed.  One was one I gave Barbara, maybe for Mother's Day some year. It provide rose buds for her for most of the last month of her life.  The other rose bush came from the Sunday School class at NUMC when Kaye's mother died.  I'm afraid what was grafted on did not survive and what we have now is from the vigorous root stock.  There is a statue that the Mikschs gave us as a wedding gift, and a plaque about gardens that was a gift to Barbara. There are geodes from one of the Beyer's Missouri homes, and some petrified wood that Jacob Beyer gave us from Arizona.
There is a statue of a boy on a turtle's back that came from Kaye's home place in Tulsa.
We are still adding memories to that and other beds.

1 comment:

Mindy McCulley said...

Lots of flowers bring memories for me. I think the first flower I ever remember is the snapdragon. For most of my life, I thought my Grandma Jones had taught me to squeeze the bloom of the snapdragon to see it open it's "mouth". When Joshua was young and I was showing him and telling him that story, mom said, "Your Grandma didn't show you that, I did with flowers from her funeral."