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A Motley Crew Of Ardent Gardeners.

June 23, 2008

I come from a short line of fervent gardeners.

One to be precise.

No Capability Brown’s, Gertrude Jekyll’s or Frederick Law Olmsted’s in my background; in my family there’s no tradition going back generations; no gardening secrets or “recipes” passed down through the years by great grandfathers or grandmothers; no great aunts with green thumbs or plants named after them; no schools of gardening, no public parks.

It began with my Father, the man who (only post retirement) discovered his passion for gardening, because he had the time and space. There was also, on a very part time basis, my Mother, who mostly pottered around with this gardening idea, although her love of plants and appreciation for my Father’s gift was in evidence. (Except when he placed large pots of orchids, he’d brought in from his greenhouse, in the bath tub for a thorough watering [“it’s best to water them from the bottom up,” he always said], as this sometimes coincided with her morning “dip.”)

Mother’s gardening efforts consisted of caring for her small pots of African violets, propagating them from leaves that she would break off from her favorite “parent plants” to nurture and grow in her preferred potting mix. She was proud to show off her leafy offspring to anyone interested.

A pink, double-flowered cultivar

My Father was the ardent gardener (more of a horticulturist), who besides being knowledgeable and keeping a glorious and colorful flower garden, grew and propagated orchids, and was president of the Orchid Society.

Cultivated Phalaenopsis lindenii

Often when orchids were in bloom with a spectacular set of blossoms, he would bring a large potted plant (or two, or four or more), into the living room for us all to enjoy. I don’t think he was aware of the fact that during those abundant orchid blossoming days, our house bore a strong resemblance to a funeral parlor, with huge potted plants occupying most of the horizontal surfaces. And Mother’s little violets on the window ledge.

He never sold any of the orchids, only giving them away if someone really hankered after them.

Cymbidium Clarisse Austin -

I grew up in the shadow of Table Mountain, in a climate most conducive to luxurious gardens, with at least one parent who knew plants well. It seems to have rubbed off on my sister and myself, who are drawn to digging in our little bit of earth; onto our eldest brother too: a great gardener who was initially drawn to cacti and succulents, but his gardening expertise is a “chip of the old block’s.” His backyard (and his knowledge) is as luscious and colorful as our Father’s was – minus the prickles.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. mrdakota permalink
    June 24, 2008 3:58 am

    Hey there islandlass…

    I read a few of your entries about Tahiti, French Polynesia. Beautiful photographs! How long did you visit Tahiti for?
    I just came back 2 weeks ago. It was absolutely beautiful. Went there to catch up on my roots (French Polynesian); such a beautiful place. Can’t wait to go back.

    I see you enjoyed Moorea, it’s truly magical huh?
    I stayed there only for a day, because we had to go back to the main island early. – but I would have LOVED to stay there for more than a day, a few nights actually. I bet it looks spectacular in the evenings!

    Next time I go back, I’m going to do that for sure. Also, there are camp grounds in Moorea, which looks like a lot of fun. (I think camping should be done in the cold season ha ha, — no air con!)

    Anyway, good reads.

  2. islandlass permalink*
    June 24, 2008 5:05 pm

    Thank you.

    It is a great place to visit, but so far away!

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