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Saturday, June 20, 2009

If I'm Remembering Right...

If I’m remembering right, it seems that my Dad always managed to have a ripe tomato around Father’s Day, in this same hardiness zone that I am gardening in. Whether that memory is right or wrong, that’s the date by which I measure how late my tomatoes are each year.

It appears that this year, my tomatoes will once again be very, very late since the plants are just now starting to bloom. Even the tomato plant I bought with blooms on it will not provide a ripe tomato for awhile. I’m going to blame the cooler weather and all the rain. At least it was cooler weather until yesterday when it reached 90 F for the first time this summer. Usually we don’t see days above 90 until July.

If I’m remembering right, my Dad’s geraniums (Pelargonium) were always very big and very red. Every year, he planted a row of them in a long planter box on the edge of our front porch. His secret for growing such big geraniums? He bought the biggest and best that he could find, at least I think that was the secret. He once said the reason the neighbor down the street couldn’t get hers to grow as big as his was because “she bought the smallest, cheapest plants that she could”.

I don’t plant a long planter box full of bright red geraniums at my house, but every spring I buy one or two of the biggest and best geraniums I can find in a color I think my Dad would have liked, and include those in a few of my container plantings.
This year I planted a dark red, almost maroon colored geranium that I feel certain he would have approved of (even though the camera balks at the color).

If I’m remembering right, my Dad believed that you needed a very large garden to make it worthwhile to grow sweet corn, and since he had just a good-sized garden by his measure, he didn’t try to grow any. He did tell a funny story about one of his friends who grew up in the city and never learned how to grow vegetables, but decided he would have a garden one summer, “have a garden” meaning grow some vegetables. My Dad laughed because his friend only planted four corn plants, thinking they would produce ears and ears of corn, like tomato plants produce dozens of tomatoes.

For years, I didn’t grow sweet corn either, because I thought I didn’t have enough space, at least according to my Dad. But then I decided to try growing corn in one of my raised beds.
Lo and behold, it was a big enough patch to give me a few ears of corn, so I’ve continued to grow sweet corn ever since then.

If I’m remembering right, my Dad had very few gardening tools, though he had a good-sized garden. A spade, a rake, and just one a hoe, a pair of pruners and a trowel, plus the electric hedge trimmers that he used to trim all the yews planted around the foundation of our house. I thought I had “arrived” as a gardener when he handed me the trimmers one summer right after Father's Day and let me trim up all the shrubs. Turns out, trimming all those yews was a big job, and he probably was just happy to have some help doing it.

Though I think I've "arrived" as a gardener, I no longer think that gardening involves using electric hedge trimmers, and I have just a few more, well, a lot more, gardening tools than my Dad had. But I’d like to think he would find humor in one of his daughters having a collection of hoes.

I remember and imagine because my Dad passed away some 22 years ago. He is still missed and remembered, especially in the garden, when tomatoes ripen, geraniums flower, and the corn is ready to be picked. So to honor my Dad on Father’s Day I'll spend the day gardening and remembering.

And if I’m remembering right, that’s just how he would have liked to spend the day, too.

20 comments:

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Carol, this is a sweet and endearing post about your father. My father hasn't passed, but I believe he still likes to garden. I haven't seen him in four years or more. His mother is my Grandma Nita.~~Dee

Holly said...

I often wonder how my family and friends will remember me. I hope they remember the nice dogs that were easy to live with and the gardens I have. I hope they remember the flowers and the tomatos, the green beans and the fresh peas they picked and ate right off the vine.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Very touching; you've found some great ways to remember your dad. I'm sure he would have enjoyed your hoe collection as much as we do. He gave you a great gift, the gift of gardening.

Kathy said...

What a wonderful post, remembering your father. But my mind boggles at ripe tomatoes in June. We don't even plant them out until June.

Helen said...

A lovely post about your Dad, Carol. We, too, share garden memories about our Mum and Dad, both of whom are also no longer around (for 22 and 16 years, respectively). How kind it is to be able to think of those who are not longer here with the ideas of growth and renewal.

Laura said...

Neither of my parents gardened; I remember my maternal grandmother had a few tomato plants.

My 9-year-old son made a little booklet in school for a Mother's Day present. One of the pages asked the kids if they could give anything to Mom, what would they give? Joshua wrote seeds, gardening magazines, and gardening tools.
I guess I'm making an impression on him!

Leslie said...

What a wonderfully sweet tribute Carol. I do wonder what he would think about all your hoes!

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Didn't Dad start most of his tomato plants from seeds on the back counter? Is that why he always had one early in the season?

I always remember how neat and pretty his gardens were. Flower and vegetable. Now as a grown up, I realize how much time and effort that took. I think because he always enjoyed it so much, I always looked at gardening as his hobby rather than a task or a chore to be done.

I wonder why he never had any weeds and the grass was always so green. And I wonder what he would have done with the north side of the house? And the little forest?

Your sister

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a wodnerful way to remember your Dad. I am sure he is smiling at the memories you have and thinking he wishes he had more hoes.

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Your dad left a wonderful legacy, Carol, and we are fortunate to share in her life!

kim thrower said...

My father too has passed and every time I'm in my garden I think of him. He always had a wonderful garden and took great pride in it.
Thanks for such a nice tribute to your Dad. I'm sure he'd love it.

Anonymous said...

What a special post about your dad. What a great legacy. So glad gardening gives you so much joy as it did for him. It is nice to have those memories and reflections from your childhood. Happy gardening tomorrow--your dad will be right there too.
Susie

Darla said...

What a great post!

beckie said...

Carol, what a wonderful heart touching post. A beautiful way to honor the memory of your Dad. As daughters, we try so hard to gain the approval of our fathers-I think even more so than sons. And we are in some ways forever tied to our Dads. I suppose we athink of ourselves as Daddy's little girl all of our lives.

I am sure he would be very pround of the traditions you have kept and of the new ones you have implemented!

anna maria said...

That was very sweet.
I love it just looking at something like a plant or at food we prepare can bring back memories of our parents.
Just yesterday I told my brother that we had inherited good gardening and cooking genes from our parents.

HappyMouffetard said...

What a wonderful tribute - the love shines through. I have a garden full of memories of my mother - it's amazing how the sight of a flower or the scent of a plant can bring back such sweet memories.

Gail said...

Carol...A sweet tribute to your dad and the legacy of gardening he passed on to you! My dad gardened, but mom never did care for the outdoors! gail

Jean said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to your dad. You've got the gardening genes too.

Carol said...

A lovely way to be with your dad... to remember and honor his memory. Very touching ... thank you. I am sure he would love your hoe collection.

Annie in Austin said...

Lovely reminiscences, Carol- such a sweet post.
We didn't plant tomatoes out until the 3rd week of May in Illinois so even though we always hoped for tomatoes by the 4th of July it seldom happened.

Your maters will soon be ripe! Hang on!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose