I love gardening, it has been a huge hobby of mine since I was about 10 years old. It started with my Mother, I have fond memories of going to Kmart when they had the small greenhouse and I would watch her pick out a few plants to spruce up the seasons flower bed. I remember when I was 10 she asked “would you like us to build you a small garden of your own?”. My heart skipped a beat as I immediately started brainstorming what plants I wanted in my very own garden! Dad dug me a small plot in the yard for my garden and I remember picking out a small white fence to put around it. Then we went to Kmart and I remember the pure delight I felt as I got to make my own selection of flowers I wanted! I remember getting the most stunning shade of pink poppies, blue columbines, sunflowers and a few other varieties which I don’t remember. I planted them myself and fully enjoyed watching them grow! To this day my garden isn’t complete without sunflowers, columbines and poppies! My Grandpa Hollenbeck got me into my love of growing food. I have many many fond memories of me and Grandpa having “tomato contests” who had the biggest tomato, the most tomato’s and the best tomato! I remember one week he showed me his cherry tomato plant….it was small and not impressive, just like my plant. The next week I came over and he showed me the “same” plant only it was gigantic!!!! I immediately thought “yup, hes going to win this year!” then I see Grandpas mouth start to turn up….then a full smile until finally he busted out laughing! He pulls out the same tiny plant he showed me last week and laughs saying “I am just teasing you! I just bought this big plant, I have the little one right here!”. We both got a good laugh and I remember Grandma chuckling as she sternly reminded him its not nice to trick your grandchild!
For me the garden has always been more then pretty flowers or healthy food. It’s a place of rest, a place of memories and a place of healing. Many times over the years you would find me in the garden after a rough day at school, after a bad report card (trust me, there was many!), the end of a relationship, and even as an adult you find me knee deep in the garden working away the days stresses. This year has been extremely challenging, my family is in the midst of life’s storms and its been like this for a few years now. Christmas eve 2018 I received the news I prayed I wouldn’t hear “I am sorry but it is life threatening for you to try to have another baby, you can risk it but know its almost certain you won’t survive”. The New Year was to follow where in the same month we had a devastating terminal cancer diagnosis of a beloved family member, followed by my own cancer of melanoma which I got to have surgery for on my birthday (yep, I know how to celebrate!). My husband had a few months ordeal with a pesky kidney stone and on top of that still mourning the news I received Christmas Eve. As always spring arrived and to the garden I went! I prepared the soil, planted the seeds and waited patiently, soon enough up popped carrots and sunflowers, beans and peas. With so many things going on, so much rough news, the garden has suffered. Normally my harvest this time of year is measured in huge baskets which I give to anyone I can find. This year my Harvest is very humble….just a few tomatoes (less then a dozen) one cucumber and one zucchini and a pluthera of pea pods. The carrots and sunflowers reseeded themselves from the previous year so they took over which isn’t a bad thing! The deer were gracious enough to help me by eating all the green beans. Funny thing about the garden is that it doesn’t need to be super fruitful to get the benefits of it. My daughter has learned how to pull carrots, plant seeds, mend the soil and remove Japanese beetles! We have had fun playing under the sunflowers and she is obsessed with eating fresh peas. The garden holds so much more then flowers and food. It produces memories, teaches skills, revives a tired soul and if your lucky fills many tummies! Maybe gardening isn’t your thing, that’s ok, but find your thing and allow yourself to step back from the storms of life and rest. Sometimes I have good cry in the garden, sometimes I pray in the garden, Sometimes the garden is where I teach my daughter. The garden is where I revive myself. And in order to thrive in the midst of life’s many struggles you also must allow yourself to rest!
FULL DISCLOSURE: The garden also taught me I’m allergic to bees….not a relaxing experience…or reviving….but the hour wait in the emergency room was fun….especially next to the person coughing up a lung!