There were never any how-to instructions tucked into the pockets of my parents during my growing up. That they grew plants seemed a natural part of my life in Wisconsin; I am not even sure if they ever expected me to garden, too. But hey, what are you going to do when your dad shows up on your doorstep with paper bags and cardboard boxes of plants on each visit?
As I say in the first chapter, “The garden became a knowable space where I was at home before I ever realized these feelings would even matter.” Take a feature of everyday life, and it is easy for a gardener to turn it on its head to become an oddity of home-life with people who had their hands in soil most days.
My eBook, Garden Truths From My Family’s Stories, tells of the lowly soap dish, probably more often a plastic bottle with a pump these days, “For as long as I could remember, on the corner of our kitchen sink sat a plastic square with tips bent in meant to hold a bar of soap. In our home, at the rectangular basin that bar of soap was a collection of soap scraps, as the pile would melt together from repeated hand washings. The light brown patina was from soil, or rather dirt, that accumulated in the upper dermis of fingers, hands, arms and, yes, even face, and under nails.”
As gardeners know, there is no one correct style or type of plant grower. My parents liked to grow many kinds of plants, some that had no business in our Midwest climate, as readers find in Chapter Four, “Fruit Trees in the Back of a Rambler.”
It is a well-guarded maxim that gardeners kill plants. My parents loved roses, and they successfully grew a large fruit and vegetable garden, but my dad did not hesitate to pick up the most bedraggled plant off the sale shelf, just to see if he could make it grow. My mother grew her plants in neat straight rows of similar colors – she liked the design flowers brought to her garden beds. Neither of them talked about the plants that died at their hands, but they did learn from their demise and went on to grow more and more plants.
Such is the essence of gardening. Garden Truths From My Family’s Stories is a small eBook of eight chapters filled with garden essays, photos and some gardening ideas. It is not a how-to, but rather meant to be enjoyed, if only for a short while. If readers get inspiration to go on gardening from the writing, well, that would be a good thing.