I have trouble nailing down my true earliest memory. I know there are people who can easily recite them, but I’m not sure I know exactly which memories came first.
I remember standing on my tip toes next to a table that was moved out onto Mamaw and Papaw’s driveway with my mouth open wide so my “Uncle Bear” could drop a steamed oyster on my tongue – my first taste of a lifelong love of oyster roasts.
I remember when I realized I’d learned to read well enough to finish an entire book and how proud my parents made me feel. I wasn’t in school yet, but I was word-obsessed and I was very aware, probably because of the way my parents encouraged me, that books could open new worlds for me.
I don’t know which of those things came first and I don’t know if those moments are older than my first memories of helping my mom in her garden.
We had a backyard that was notorious for flooding. It rose to street level on one side of the house and dropped several feet as you crossed the grass. When it rained really hard, it’d fill up like a pool.
The first garden I remember was tucked in a corner formed by the beams that held the deck and the staircase that led to it. I can’t remember now if it was a raised bed, but I know it had some sort of fence boundary, probably to keep Molly, our bouncy sheepdog-springer spaniel mix out.
My mom would let me help before I had any idea what helping looked like. She’d let me follow her around the garden pointing at plants and asking what they were.
I was, unsurprising to anyone who knows me now, a curious kid.
She’d teach me about why we planted tomatoes when we did and when to know that something was ready to pick.
She introduced me to my longtime favorite flower – the snapdragon – it’s not particularly beautiful in shape or even color, but I was drawn to the name.
Snapdragons are a cool season plant. Each long stalk has several buds that open creating a kind of bouquet on a single stalk. They come in a variety of colors, but I’ve always been partial to the pinks.
I carried snapdragons in my wedding bouquet, because I love them, but more-so as a nod to my mom and our moments in her garden – the garden I consider my first.
I don’t say these things aloud to her as much as I should, but so much of what I do is a nod to who she is and our relationship.
My love of gardening wasn’t my own at first, it was a love of spending time learning from her.
Now it’s my own and one of my favorite passions.
This year will be my second year planting a garden in my own yard. We bought a house in the late summer of 2017 and planted our first vegetable garden in early 2018. It went very well – we ate a lot of food grown in our own yard and it was incredibly refreshing. We also watched roughly a dozen watermelons grow to a decent, but not-yet-pickable size and then rot before they crossed the goal line. It happens. Gardening isn’t perfect. Nature isn’t fully predictable, but every experience is a teacher, right?
This year, we tripled the size and I plan to add flowers to the mix.
I’ve decided to document the process this year and I’ll share what works and what doesn’t right here. So stick around if you love pretty decent photos of plants and helpful tips so you can avoid whatever mistakes I’ll inevitably make.