This proverb must surely be true, as my father’s gardens were always wonderful.
I found this photo while purging some folders this evening and was struck by the glove in the upper right corner which almost looks as though it is holding a garden tool. You’d realize the cruel irony of this if you knew that my Dad had had a stroke four years ago that left a permanent deficit in his right hand — the hand he used for gardening, painting, carving, and sculpting, the things he loved most.
My Dad never claimed to have a green thumb, but he certainly did. His gardens always overflowed with brilliant tumbles of color, Cut and Come Again zinnias and African marigolds being among his favorites. He started most of his annuals from seed in a tiny, glass hot house, fully equipped with exhaust fans and levered windows he had engineered for hot, sunny days and heat lamps for cold, spring nights. How I loved the steamy, earthy smell inside that little building!
My parents own a large property that has been wonderfully landscaped over the years. If you complimented my father on a particular planting, he would brush the praise away, stating as always that he was “just a hobby gardener”. Though he often feigned indifference, I remember many nights when he would quietly retreat to his hot house before going to bed, just to check the temperature inside. I would see him bend to sniff a colorful bloom at foggy dusk, a smile forming at the corner of his mouth. Or watch a frown crease his forehead as he examined a curled leaf. He was proud of his gardens, though he held no delusions of grandeur.
Much of my interest in nature, plants, and gardening comes from my father. And though he can no longer spend long hours with his hands in the dirt, you can still find him, at age 80, mowing their expansive lawns on his ride-on mower. In fact, he lives for it now more than ever.
As is the gardener, so is the garden, indeed.