Saturday, May 14, 2011

I come to the garden alone...

In search of my mother's garden, I found my own. -Alice Walker, American writer

This quote I found on a fellow blogger’s site, “A Country Farmhouse”. The quote was
beneath a tender photo of three generations. If you know the site, then you know how
lovely the photos are, taken by the author. I hope she won’t mind that I am using this
In a literal sense, my mother’s garden was exactly that: a garden. It was an acre of
courtesy of Mom's garden
strawberries, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions, and…well, you get the idea. We did constant battle with weeds. In fact, it was daily battle. I would start hoeing the potatoes, and by the time I finished the many, oh so many rows, it was time
to start again at the beginning. Picking the vegetables were the same process: pick the ripe tomatoes one day, and go back the next day to find a whole new crop. Green beans, again the same.

I can’t say it was a lovely garden, but it was well-laid out, nurtured, and used. The food harvested was canned or frozen, or stored in a cool dark place for use through the winter.  The summer that used to stretch long and lazy when I was young changed. It was now a
from perfection
summer of gardening, canning, making jam, and mowing the lawn. Repeatedly.  It does sound like I am complaining, but I am not. During those days where my mother and I hunched over, searching under the strawberry runners for ripe berries, we talked.

She told me stories about her life, I asked questions. It was probably the only time that my brothers and father were far away from us, so we could talk about anything we wanted.

It was also a time when both my grandmothers would get together in our big farmhouse kitchen, and we would all work at the steaming hot process of canning. I usually got the job of running the cooked tomatoes through the ricer with a wooden pestle.  The boiling
from  "It was a fierce summer day
juice splattered my arms with red dots. At first, I complained, but Mom replied, “You’re fine. Keep going.” That was my mother’s response for many complaints for my entire growing up years. Thick hot tomato sauce was poured into the rows of scalded quart Mason jars, and placed in a boiling water bath. At the end of the day, while we cleaned up the kitchen, jars lined up on the table, ready for winter’s chili and vegetable soups, thick stews, and goulash.

These canning days filled the kitchen with stories from my grandmothers, about their own canning days with their mothers and grandmothers. There would be canning horror stories, canning disasters, and canning triumphs.
Lemon tree next to St. Francis
Oranges in January
My own garden is modest, to say the least. Living in a dry desert climate, we have to
water every plant, if we want it to be green instead of withered up brown. We have
fruit trees that produce lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits. We give them away as
fast as we can, keeping only what we two can use. The geraniums are bountiful in size,
Lavender in Winter
all colors. The lavender grows and spreads out, enticing honey bees. We have some
My roses
roses, ‘Cecil Burgess roses’ I think is their name. They fill the air with intense rose scent, almost thick enough to eat.

I will never have my mother’s garden, but I have found my own.


  1. Wonderful post Susan, it reminded me of my late husband who loved gardening, he would spend many hours there and I supposed he thought out how he would break the news of his terminal illness.
    The pictures on your post are superb a joy to read and look.

  2. Hello,
    SO glad you enjoyed the Blue Denim cupcakes :) I will have a go at some lavender cupcakes and let you know the results :)

  3. I need to garden, I really do. Just reading about canning makes me hungry LOL!

  4. I felt like I was in the garden with you - great showing writing. I have a garden too and constantly have to fight my black thumb, but when I pull out the pretty little red potatoes from the dirt with my boys, and eat them for dinner roasted with young onions, I realize the effort is worth it. Thanks for a great post.

  5. "I will never have my mother’s garden, but I have found my own." - Love it, so much feeling!



  6. Great story of family! And wonderful to have all those fresh fruits and veggies :) XOL

  7. This is a great life story. I loved it! I also love to garden, as it serves as my time to reflect, pray, listen and just "breathe." Gardening is such a personal labor of love--it gives me peace and soothes my soul. Your garden is your own. Be blessed. Cynthia

  8. I have tried several times to plant and tend a garden. None of my attempts were successful. What does that say about me? I wonder what my kids will take away as their mother's garden. Very thought provoking, Sue!

  9. My grandparents had a garden that sounds a lot like your mother's. My grandmother and mother would always talk about canning, but I never witnessed the process. I did however, enjoy the fruits of their labor! My grandmother's canned green beans were awesome!

    I often contemplate starting a garden, but just can't find the time. Someday though I will.

    I wish you a beautiful summer with many good times in your garden and making new memories with your grandchildren.

  10. Beautiful post. I love the story telling...There was alot of story telling when I was little. I would listen and absorb all the odd, funny sad and joyous stories of generations past. I looks like you had some great memories made. blessings, Joanne

  11. Lovely garden. I wish mine looked like that. Lovely tribute to your mother too :O)


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