Gardening Heritage and Gardening Genes

Those who also check on my blog "Grandma's Diaries" will find that 81 years ago today, Grandma was out gardening, sowing clover in her lawn, digging new flower beds and planting bulbs and seeds. Exactly what seeds and bulbs she planted, we'll never know.

I think I have a pretty strong "gardening heritage". Many gardeners in the family came before me!

Several years ago, I asked my Aunt Marjorie (also a gardener) to send me a list of the plants she remembers from Grandma's garden, so I could have a record of what she grew. It's quite a list!

Grandma had a 'city garden', and I don't think she grew many vegetables. She did have some fruit trees, including a cherry tree and a quince tree. She might have also had a gooseberry patch. She had a "snowball bush" which was probably an old-fashioned Viburnum, and some spirea in the front by the porch. On the side of the house she had a large patch of lily of the valley. Later in the summer, she had hostas that bloomed on that same side of the house.

I also had my Aunt Susie on the other side of the family send me a list of what plants they grew on their farm. They grew a lot of vegetables and canned a lot of them for year around eating. "City grandma" also did some canning, but mostly with produce she bought from the "vegetable man".

My dad, who grew up on the farm, always had a vegetable garden, very neatly kept, well-tended, and a source of pride, I think, especially if he could harvest the 1st tomato of the season before anyone else. He had a large planter box on the front porch which he always planted with red geraniums. He made sure to buy large-sized plants, to provide a good display. To this day, I always have some geraniums in a pot on my front porch, not because I especially like them, but because that's part of my gardening heritage, and I feel compelled to have some geraniums in his memory.

Anyway, I could go on and on regarding my 'gardening heritage'. I feel fortunate to have had some examples to follow from those who gardened before me. I was thinking this evening while puttering around in the yard that gardening is really something that is best shown to others. I've never really met a gardener who got all their gardening knowledge from books and then went out and gardened. They all can tell you who showed them how to plant seeds, dead head flowers, etc. You can get ideas from books and magazines, of course, but I don't think that makes you a gardener. You become a gardener by learning from other gardeners.

You also have to have the interest, or as we call it the 'gardening gene'. I have a sister who likes to look at pretty gardens and flowers, but really doesn't have much interest in gardening as a hobby or feel particularly compelled to garden. I have a couple of other sisters who do like to garden. We talk about the nieces and nephews and try to figure out which ones have the gardening 'gene', if there is such a thing. We are pretty sure my mom doesn't have the gene, we think my niece Sophie might have it, but it may be too early to really tell. She's young yet, but is willing to help in the garden. Maybe my nephew Grant has it. He likes to have some plants in his room and tried some tomatoes last year. And, I once loaned a book on herbs to my nephew Ross when he showed an interest in plants, so maybe he is going to be a gardener. The others, we'll just have to wait and see!


  1. My Sister Patsy has a birthday today. She reads your Blog daily. Give her a shout to let her know she is old today! : )

  2. Carol,
    I just discovered your grandma blog - wonderful. Thanks for sharing.


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