The Year I Became a Gardener

The Year I Became a Gardener

You may think it odd. My family has owned a garden center for more than 70 years, and I have worked there for about 50 years. But this year, 2020, is the first year I became a real gardener.

I am not alone. Millions of people, forced to stay at home by the Covid-19 shutdown, and possibly inspired by the fear of running out of food, have taken up gardening. We think that is a great trend, although the circumstances are trying.

It just so happens that this pandemic coincides with my move to an historic old house with a large yard. Some areas of the yard are well-maintained and beautiful, while there are many hidden corners that need attention.

In the past, I have lived on horse ranches, where all my time was taken up with caring for small children and livestock. Mowing the yard was about the extent of my yard care.

And then there were the demands of running a large garden center. During the prime planting time, we are so busy, working seven days a week to help other people with their yards, that there is no energy left over for tending our own. There have been years when I resided in a zero-lot line home with a tiny yard, and I still had to hire someone to mow, trim and put mulch in the tiny flower beds.

This year, the garden center has been busier than ever. But when I drag myself home, my shady, bird-filled yard calls to me. My son, Michael, has been a big part of this awakening. Being young and full of knowledge and energy, he has devoted countless hours to cleaning, planting and planning our beautiful oasis.His young children now spend more time playing outdoors than they do in front of a screen. There is water where they watch the fish. There are expanses of grass where they can run. And there are hidden, overgrown corners where they make play houses.

My biggest contribution so far has been to create a bird feeding station with several bird feeders offering different types of food. Cardinals visit multiple times per day, and we have chickadees, house finches, blue jays and many others. We have seen many unusual migrating birds as well.

I have also filled many pots and window boxes with seasonal flowers and put hanging baskets all around the porch.

Did I mention there is an old greenhouse? It needs a lot of work, but it kept some tropical bougainvillea and other cold-sensitve plants alive through the winter. We had large camellias blooming during the coldest months. And there were PEONIES this spring! I have always wanted peonies, but never had a good spot to plant them.

Now I can’t wait to fill the dozens of empty flower beds with anything that suits my fancy.

The good part is, the advice I have been dishing out for so many years does work. When I see plants that I like in the nursery, I know exactly where I would like to put them. I know how to fertilize, water and care for them. It’s great to put these years of theory into practice. I am posting Facebook photos of unexpected blooms. As soon as possible, we will be inviting friends over to enjoy our yard.

Gardening is such a great pastime. Wonder why I’m just now discovering it?