Wednesday, 22 February 2017

How I Became A Gardener

The blogger is sick with a cold. The first one in years. Weakling that I am, I am repeating a post on a special time in my gardening life.


Soon after I had graduated as a recreation therapist I was interviewed for a job at a long term care facility. They said they had a strong horticulture programme and asked I felt I had the skills to maintain it. Though I had, as yet, no garden of my own, I placed my trust in the gardening gods and my ancestors, crossed my fingers and responded enthusiastically. How hard could it be?

My first day I was given a tour of the garden; it was larger than I expected, half an acre larger!  I was told students cut the grass and took care of the heavy work but I would be responsible for planting, watering and light maintenance (whatever that meant). We went into the greenhouse, yes, they had a greenhouse. On the walls hung 5  first place plaques won in the city's annual gardening competition. “We are very proud of our success,” said my guide, meaningfully. Panic gripped me with a very cold hand.

 However, all was not lost. I soon came to realize that the facility residents had, collectively, thousands of years of gardening experience. I mined it for all it was worth. The residents soon clued in to the fact they had a novice on their hands and rose to the task. What a glorious first summer we enjoyed. To be the giver, not the receiver was effective medicine. We spent hours in the garden. Those who were able to planted and weeded the raised beds. The frailer people sat in the sunshine and offered advice and support. Coffee and tea breaks were for reminiscing. We bonded through the passing of knowledge. There were a few setbacks, like the time an enthusiastic group removed all the flowers along with the weeds from a bed. Well done, I said to the proud little faces and spent my lunch break replanting.

Judgement Day arrived. I was in a terrible state of nerves. What if I had let my people down? We did it, first place again. My knees buckled with relief. I cried, my mentors clucked and soothed, we all laughed.We worked so hard to get plaque number six and I'm sure it was the sweetest of them all.

I spent many more happy years at the facility but there will always be something special about that first year.
Now when I’m working in my own garden, lucky me, I have the memories of that perfect summer and a thousand years of knowledge.

16 comments:

  1. I'm very intrigued and curious about why people garden. It seems everyone has their own unique reasons, but I feel we all have one thing in common, passion. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you continued success.

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    1. Thank you Mario. Are you able to define why you garden?

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  2. Susan, I have read over a number of your postings. Your history is interesting and no doubt the early history was painful, but even more I like the "attitude" you have about Earth, community, etc. Great ideas. Here along the shores of Lake Michigan this garden spot is beautiful as you can see if you run through a few postings. You will also see the importance places on environment and protection of that without getting "preachy". I liked your quote from Shakespeare - nice. I'm going to use that. Jack

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    1. Hello Jack, Thanks for the words of encouragement. At present I live in big oil country aka Calgary, Alberta. I often feel out of step with the prevailing attitudes here. Getting a reminder that I'm not alone is always a boost. How big is your garden?

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  3. That was a sweet story and I can imagine the excitement among those in your little group when you won.
    I don't know why I garden apart from the pleasure of losing myself outside for a few hours. It works!

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    1. I love to lose myself in the garden.

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  4. I do believe the love of gardening is passed down. You had the best teachers and I am sure that creating the garden gave much joy to the residents.

    My mother taught me the love of gardening and it has been passed down to all four of my children, including my very sports-minded son. It makes me proud.

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    1. My grandfather and all my aunts and uncles are skilled gardeners-the only exception is my father, absolutely not interested. Luckily the gene reappeared in his children and my own children also love gardening. The kids could hardly avoid it as their paternal grandparents were excellent gardeners too.

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  5. What a wonderful start to being a gardener. Those oldsters are a wealth of info and more than happy to share it!

    Hope you feel better soon.

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  6. There is nothing more therapeutic than being outside in fresh air, with your hands and feet in the dirt. How wonderful that they were able to be a useful part of something grand. It was the perfect start - no wonder your gardens have flourished!

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    1. Having a purpose is so important whatever our age or situation. I'm a little bit nervous about my "flourishing" garden, I think this bitter winter has killed the roses.

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  7. A wonderful story. I can just see you in that garden, tending the plants and the people at the same time. - Margy

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  8. A lovely story about your beginnings in horticulture, Susan. So glad you all kept up the tradition by winning. Teamwork and communication won the day!

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    1. It was very special and as a new staff member it was a terrific way to build credibility.

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