In April of 2002 I got a call from a friend of the people that had the Voodoo bulbs that I wrote about on the previous post. I had mowed this lady's lawn 20 years ago, but had not had any contact with her since then. She called to see if I would consider helping her in her garden. I agreed to go and look at what she wanted done, but told my husband that there was no way that I was going to do it. I was just far to busy, and if I did have any spare time, I wanted to spend it in my own garden.
So I went and met with her. She started showing me around the garden, assuming that I was going to take the job. She was so proud of all of her flower's, but her knee's would not allow her to get down on the ground like she used to. She was also taking care of her invalid husband, which took up a lot of her time.
Well, needless to say, I could not tell her no. She had thought about hiring a kid to help her, but knew that they would not know the difference between plants and weeds. So, I agreed to come for a few hours every week, if I could make it. The beds were full of perennial grass, and the usual weeds that plague all of our gardens.
So, that first Friday I showed up with my trowel and gloves, and started on the beds. We developed a routine that summer, usually on Friday mornings, were I would come for a couple of hours to weed, mulch, or do whatever she thought was pressing that week. She would usually come out and garden along with me, or sometimes just sit in her chair and visit while I worked. She would often tell me that if it wasn't for me, she would not be able to stay in her home. Her children lived several hours away, and were not able to help her with everyday chores. She would come out to her garden during the week, whenever she got the chance, and would always tell me when I got there on Friday, what she had accomplished since I was there last.
Then about a two years ago, her husband passed away. I was still coming weekly, and was noticing that she was slowing down a bit, her knee's bothering her more. She spent more time in her chair visiting, than she did gardening. I learned to be a good listener, because the minute I got there she would begin to tell me all about her week. I would garden, and she would drag her chair around behind me, often sharing with me stories of her childhood, raising her children, and her gardening wisdom. She still got an amazing amount of chores done during the week, making herself go out to the garden everyday if she could. She was especially proud of her "Dortmund" roses, and they are awesome, as you can see in the picture.
Every Spring she starts her own tomato's, and has her own certain way of planting them. She will stand over me and instruct me on how much Epsom salts, and fertilizer to put into the hole, each year going over it again in case I have forgotten. During the winter months she meticulously goes over the seed and bulb catalogs, choosing new variety's to try. She loves lily's, and always orders a few of them. I stop in to see her during the winter months, and she will discuss with me which plants she is ordering for the Spring. I am amazed at her memory. She will often sit in her chair an instruct me where to plant the bulbs that had come in the mail that week. And the next Spring remember where they are all planted and what variety they were.
She gardens almost total organic, though I have had to introduce her to Roundup, or we would have never gotten control of the wild grasses. She grows many of the old fashioned favorites, and the garden is colorful the entire year.
This Fall I was able to get almost all of the garden cleaned off before winter set in. She was so thrilled, and has even called to tell me how wonderful it is to look out at it and know that she is ready for Spring.
Today she turns 90 years old. I wasn't sure what to take her, but while shopping at Sam's I noticed that they had these amazing orchid's. I love my orchid's because of their long bloom period, so I thought that she might enjoy one.
She doesn't talk much about moving anymore, but when she does, she isn't down about it. She knows that at 90 years old, she is not going to be able to stay in her home forever, and she has her "garden memories" to keep her company when the time comes that she is forced to give up her real garden. But she still drives her car, even taking friend to their doctor appointments, and getting her own groceries. She keeps up with current events, and can talk politics's, the economy, or any other item in the news.
I truly believe that the one consistent thing in her life, her garden, has kept her going this many years, and hopefully for many more.
When I took this job in 2002, I never thought that I would still be going there weekly, in 2008. But she is already making plans for this years garden, and getting her seeds and bulbs ordered.
She often tells me that she doesn't know what she would do without me. But what I know, is that I have gotten far more out of this relationship than she has.