Remembering the Gardens of One's Childhood
by Ruth S. Foster

The gardens of one's childhood are fleeting images of sunny times with loving parents or grandparents or neighbors. Memories return of mothers picking, arranging or enjoying the beauty of flowers. These memories are often closely intertwined with our current love of gardening.

The gardens of one's childhood always remain in memory as happy places. They are not perfectly manicured trophy gardens of exotic flowers nor architectural masterpieces. The gardens of one's childhood are fleeting images of sunny times with loving parents or grandparents or neighbors.

Memories return of mothers picking, arranging or enjoying the beauty of flowers. These memories are often closely intertwined with our current love of gardening.

The gardens of my childhood had woods with violets for picking and bringing home.Sometimes there were vegetables, particularly huge, seedy cucumbers which were scorned, and preserved tomatoes that exploded in the cellar artistically spattering the ceiling with red.

In the rose bed, the gardener unknowingly weeded out my marigolds seedlings when I was six years old. The most vigorous rose, a climbing red one, came from a cutting given by a neighbor who always had a box of chocolates handy for visiting children.

There were old purple-pink irises that faithfully flowered each year, clones of which still do in my garden. The aguga and lily-of-the-valley pips I took to my house have become broad swaths of bloom that slowly move each year towards the southern sun.

The gardens of childhood live on in the plants I brought when I was landscaping my own house, many from cousins and friends as well. They are old varieties, valued for longevity and resilience, and while not as fancy as newer hybrids, they return faithfully each year.

When each of my children started their own homes, I gave them some of my favorite plants. Gifted plants are the best kind, not only because of their vigor, but because they come with memories. The garden I make today will become the garden of my grandchildren's childhood. When they visit and pick the lily-of-the-valley, or climb the trees, or harvest a vegetable, they will remember. The garden of their childhood will be that special place where someone loved them very much.