Repost: Here’s One For Dad


It’s crunch time at work, and so there hasn’t been much time to write a post that makes any kind of sense.  There was time, however, to visit the archives of this blog and blow the dust off of a Father’s Day post from years ago.  As you fire up the grill and celebrate and honor Dad, I hope you enjoy my gardening with Dad memories.

Happy Fathers DayA few posts ago, I wrote about mowing the lawn and now that it’s Father’s Day, I’d like to revisit it.

My father is the one who taught me how to mow the lawn.  It was an orange, gas-powered model, and my father taught me how to pull the cord, adjust the throttle, pour the gas, and the all-important mowing pattern.  The idea was to mow the perimeter, and then to continue in smaller and smaller circles until  I reached the middle of the yard.  In reality, it was a rite of passage; a passing of the torch.

My mother and my father had different approaches to gardening.  My mother planted flowers and filled pots and worked at making the yard and home look pretty and appealing.  My father, on the other hand, was the gardener.  He did the digging and turning of soil.  He pruned the trees and shrubs, including the blue hydrangea in the backyard.  This is still a sore point, because it never rebounded.  It may be why I’m hesitant to cut any of my own hydrangeas.  I know there are those that bloom on old wood, and those that bloom on new wood — but for me, there will be no hydrangea pruning, thank you very much.

My father organized and planted the family’s vegetable garden.  It was filled with tomatoes, carrots, pole beans, bush beans and so much more.  What my father didn’t realize is that he planted more than vegetables in that garden.  It was the family garden, our garden, and each one of us participated in the planting and caring of our small home garden.  We weeded and harvested and told Dad of any pests that were getting too comfortable in it.  And although it was small, for us it was “the lower forty.”

With each harvest, my sister and I were treated to the freshest produce, the juiciest tomatoes.  Today, we are able to carry on those same traditions in our own families — all that from a suburban vegetable garden.

RabbitMy father’s greatest pride were and still are the apple and pear trees in his backyard.  They are also the cause of his greatest gardening stress.  If you think I have squirrel issues, you should see my father.  There are times when he comes very close to being the Bill Murray character in Caddyshack.  When everything is ripening, a visit with him will always include a count of how much fruit remains on the trees and how many those ft%%$^%g squirrels got.  Inevitably, though, there is always enough for him to make at least one of his delicious home-made apple pies.  (Update: Rabbits have since been added to my father’s most wanted list.  He knows bunnies have to eat, but the oakleaf hydrangeas and perennials — newly replanted to repair the upheaval caused by Hurricane Sandy — are not, will not, be part of the buffet.)

Since beginning this blog, I have been thinking a lot about gardeners and the reasons why we garden.  Father’s Day seems to have compounded those thoughts.  I have come to the conclusion that gardening taps into something within us, perhaps even at the chromosomal level.  Is there really a difference between my father teaching me to mow and a prehistoric man teaching his son to hunt and gather?  Is there a difference between my father’s desire to tame the wilds of his suburban yard and the colonists who first set foot in the New World?   Is there a difference between my father surveying his square foot garden and a pioneer surveying his hundred-acre spread?  And I’m pretty sure that in some remote rain forest village, there is a father cursing at the Amazonian vermin that ate his tropical treat.

And when it comes to my father — or perhaps all fathers — planting a garden, nurturing a garden, teaching others about his garden — there is a sense of pride and love.  For nature.  For tradition.  For fathers and children.

Happy Father’s Day!

8 thoughts on “Repost: Here’s One For Dad

  1. Hi, what a lovely post. My dad too was the gardener of the family, and his mother before him. I started helping out in his garden when I was very young, and I suppose I had the courage to start my own garden because of all the knowledge I got from him.

  2. I remember my dad teaching me how to plant vegetable seeds back when I was about age 13 so I guess that’s where my love of gardening first began. I recall how carefully & gently I tended those vegetable seedlings, guided and encouraged by my father. He grew so many things along with vegetables–blueberries, blackberries, apples, peaches & pears, all of which tasted like sweet heaven. From my recollection he didn’t learn about gardening from his own father but family members who lived nearby owned an orchard when he was growing up so it strikes me that his own love of growing things came down through his family as well. I cherish the continuity of it and happily shared it with my own children who are both happy gardeners as well.

    • Hi Eileen. It’s one of the added bonuses of gardening, and how wonderful that you were able to pass your passion on to your children. It’s the greatest harvest!

  3. Lovely post. You made me think of my grandfather who lived right next-door. I was his shadow. I remember one time he was talking with a neighbor saying the corn wasn’t “knee high by the 4th of July” when a 4 year old me said it was way higher than my knees!

    • I’m so glad you like the photos. Yes, I do take my own photos, but a lot of the credit has to go to the camera, which is a Canon PowerShot SX40HS. It’s very user friendly with lots of built-in effects, such as saturated color and miniature (my personal obsession). Hope this helps.

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