Gardening: hope for the future and ties to the past

Gardening is all about hope and faith in tomorrow. We plant a seed with the expectation that, should everything go well, that little seed will germinate, sprout, grow and mature.

But the act of gardening is also deeply rooted (pardon the pun) to the past. Those seeds were produced in a previous season, sometimes even years or decades earlier. For many cultures, generations are closely linked through seeds – carefully planting, harvesting and storing seeds – passing the collective knowledge down the line over the course of centuries.

Not having a lot of tangible connections to my own roots, I love it when I can make tenuous ties back to a deeper history. One place I have been able to do this is in my garden.

I never knew either of my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother died before I was born and my maternal grandmother, who I did meet on several occasions passed away when I was about four – my memories are few and due to her deteriorating health, not terribly pleasant.

According to my Dad, his mother loved to garden (though what wasn’t to love – she had two sons to send out and pull weeds!). And in her garden, she always planted marigolds.

My dad told me this one day when he was taking the OBLIGATORY tour of my garden that everyone must do when they visit (when things are growing) and noted my marigolds. I also always plant them in my garden because I enjoy them and they help deter pests, but now I have one more reason to do so!

From then on, when I plant the marigold seeds, I like to think about my grandmother and wonder what else we might have had in common. I like to think that she would have been proud of me and would have enjoyed my garden tours as I excitedly point out every new bud, blossom and emerging fruit that had appeared since a previous visit.

From what I know of my maternal grandmother, I doubt she would have been much of a gardener. But I did learn a few seasons ago from my mom that her mother always preferred yellow tomato varieties because they were less acidic.

Since that time, I have always included at least one yellow tomato plant in my garden in her honor. And she was right! They are much less acidic and very enjoyable to eat fresh!

Sometimes it’s just the little things. The simple things that bring greater depth and meaning to the everyday.

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