I know the feeling of being a garden hoarder. And it’s not that I don’t love to share my harvest … in theory. But sometimes there is a period after all your months and weeks of hard work pay off, and you seem to look up one day and you have the most gorgeous garden. There are vines spindling around trellises, and fluorescent flowers popping in every direction; There are flashes of bright red tomatoes and purple runner beans. You see it in all its glory and the garden love is real! So real that you just want to let it be for a while. No picking, no pinching, nothing. Just leave it.
Yes, I know flowers are meant to be snipped and tomatoes must be clipped, but I’d be lying if I don’t totally relate to today’s story from Norma Johnston about some old-fashioned harvest hoarding.
In her piece, Flowers Grow in a Garden, Norma recalls her father’s own garden love, and his talent for growing big, beautiful flower gardens. So beautiful in fact, that he’d prefer they stayed in the ground and not in a vase.
One morning when her mother clips them … well, I’ll let you find out what happened next.
Share the Garden Love
The following gardening romance story comes from The Weeder’s Reader: GreenPrints’s Greatest Stories. Gardening stories like these always warm my heart because there’s so much solitude in gardening, and a piece like this proves that there is also much connection.
Flowers Grow in a Garden
But they don’t have to stay there.
By Norma Johnston
I tell anyone who asks that my love of gardening came directly from my father. What I don’t reveal is that he taught me about a greater kind of love, as well.
Father’s flower garden was beautiful—and perfect. Everything was neat and in its place—even the white picket fence. He’d painstakingly made the fence out of leftover scraps of wood from the factory where he worked, carefully measuring and nailing each picket until the fence reached around the entire 150-foot enclosure. Each spring I would stir the mixture of whitewash in a large bucket and help my father paint the fence. (Real paint was a luxury we could not afford.)
Many paths separated the sections of my father’s garden. One might hold daisies and phlox, and another, colorful foxgloves and daylilies. On and on it went, creating a wonderful collage of color.
My mother didn’t garden herself, but she would often wander up and down the paths, gazing at the array of beautiful flowers. One day she must have wanted to spruce up our plain little house, because she picked a large bouquet—I’d never seen her do that before. And, indeed, the vase of reds, yellows, and pinks on the kitchen table brightened up our whole home.
That night when Father walked into the kitchen after work, he took one glance at the bouquet and exploded. “Are those my flowers?” he demanded.
“Your flowers!” Mother answered. “I always thought it was our garden. Now you say they’re your flowers?”
“You’re darn tootin’ they’re my flowers,” Father yelled at her. “I planted ’em, weeded ’em, and watered ’em. You can look at ’em, but you aren’t supposed to pick ’em.”
“Well, excuse me!” Mother said, tears rolling down her face. “You just keep your precious flowers. I’ll never go into your garden again!” She ran into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
I tried to stay invisible throughout this tirade. I couldn’t understand. Why was Father so angry over a silly bouquet? Making Mother cry—she’d meant no harm. But I kept silent. He stood looking at the closed door for a while then headed out the back door, probably to assess the damage to his garden. I slipped out the front door, figuring that it was a good time to visit my friend’s house. There, hopefully, the atmosphere would be a bit more sane.
A little over an hour later, I came back. I dreaded going into the house, deciding I would head straight up to my room. But when I opened the door, I got the surprise of my life. My mother was sitting on the couch, smiling—and my father was next to her with his arm around her. When I looked round the room, it was easy to see why she was beaming. Every flat surface in the whole house had a jar of freshly cut flowers. I remember thinking that Father’s garden must be pretty bare.
My father had finally realized that flowers may be grown in a garden, but they—and love—should never be imprisoned behind a white picket fence. ❖
By Norma Johnston, published originally in 2007, in GreenPrints Issue #72. Illustration by Heather Graham.
Did you enjoy this garden love story? Do you have one of your own? I’d love to hear it!