I Believe in Gardening

Beverly - Ellensburg, Washington
Entered on October 14, 2008
Age Group: 65+

Although I’ve never thought of myself as a gardener, gardens have defined parts of my adult life. I can look back and remember events and occasions knowing what garden I had at the time. My gardening adventures started with a north facing terraced hillside on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. This hillside garden had once been cared for by a Japanese gardener in the 30s, but when the Japanese went to interment camps, the garden deteriorated. When we bought the house many years later, the hillside was a jungle. Nevertheless, I blithely thought I could restore the garden. This led to no end of frustration until a ‘real’ gardener helped with the task and I celebrated my 41st birthday with a garden party and my children ate sugar peas off the vines in the vegetable garden. The children grew and the garden grew, but the marriage did not, so the house was sold and I moved on.

My next house also had a hillside jungle that I lived with for several years while my life got back in balance. Then I met Fred and we got married in a garden wedding in the Seattle Arboretum. With his encouragement we turned our jungle into a terraced rock garden with patio and a small vegetable garden. It’s easy to forget the thorny blackberries and weeds and remember the rhododendrons and hydrangeas and the daffodils cascading down the hillside. Our first golden retriever ate tomatoes right off the plants during one Seattle summer when it was hot enough for tomatoes to ripen.

We’ve now retired and live on a small ranch in Eastern Washington where I have a large vegetable garden with an 8 foot fence to keep out the deer and elk. I grow lettuce and spinach, squash and carrots, corn and tomatoes, and more. I remember how my daughter, who we lost to cancer, ate the sugar peas. Our present golden retrievers dig carrots to eat, but they don’t like the tomatoes. The vegetable garden and the fruit trees give pleasure all year. I plan the garden in winter, wait anxiously for late spring to plant, work hard keeping the weeds at bay in summer, and enjoy the wonderful harvest in the summer and fall, and canned and frozen vegetables and jams all year long. I enjoy the company of a friend who also likes weeding and getting her hands into the nourishing earth. And I especially enjoy giving away fruit and jams and vegetables. There is a special pleasure in seeing the miracle of a seed growing into a full productive plant, whether it’s a 6 foot corn stalk or a small aromatic basil plant. Nourishing the garden nourishes my soul.