I believe that the love of gardening helps to ground me and maintain my sanity in our modern world. I believe that this love started many years ago when I was growing up in the Yakima Valley in Washington State. As small children, my sister and I were fortunate enough to be able to play in apple and cherry orchards at all times of the year. Even then, I knew the site of an apple orchard in full bloom was one of the most wonderful things I would ever see. There truly are moments in your life that you will always remember. As a small child I was mesmerized by rays of sunlight passing through thousands of blossoms, the petals slowly drifting down from the trees, and bees floating everywhere. I remember picking fruit from those same trees in an era when parents were not afraid to let their children play alone. There is even the bittersweet memory of burying a beloved pet under those branches.
Many grape orchards and wonderful private gardens were waiting to be explored. Artificial brooks lined with stones that gradually widened to become fish ponds fascinated me. Gardens were watered by tall sprinklers making wonderful noise and giving a jungle-like atmosphere of humidity. Many summers were spent at the Columbia River or in nearby Canada on small boats in crystal clear lakes. Mammoth trees of all types, ferns and deep water surrounded us. Eventually my parents built a home and taught us how to plant young trees and shrubs very carefully. My Mother had grown up on a farm in Arkansas and knew how to grow many things.
As I became an adult I excelled in school, spent much of my time reading, and after college renovated homes as a hobby. I had a busy and fulfilling life with little time or thought given to gardens or gardening.
Twenty years ago I picked up a book of garden columns written by a woman I had met, but not fully appreciated. I became fascinated not only by the plants, but by their histories and the people who grew them. Gardening has become a passion from that day on. It sustains me through times of stress both personal and national in nature. Fellow gardeners have become best friends.
Recently I was told that today’s children are not interested in gardening, and that it is a dying hobby; “kids now days spend all their time in front of computers and video games.” I believe that is not completely true. There are still children, who like me, will have the love of gardening introduced to them at an early age, by their surroundings and loved ones.
A few years ago I returned to that apple orchard in Washington State after an absence of many years, only to find it had been demolished. I believe that it really didn’t matter.
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