In which our Heroine grants the Title of Maven of all Growing Things to Another.
My adventures in horticulture have me thinking back to my childhood days of wonder and greenery. You know, I look back and can only now see that we had a gorgeous house and yard, all due to my parent’s hard work. The vegetable garden alone was a wonder of production. I also took my mother’s skills and her ability to teach for granted. For awhile here in Anchorage, I searched for a local elder teacher, wise in the knowledge of Alaskan ways. I would stop old ladies in their yard and ask them questions about their flowers, etc. Once, I met a woman out walking her dog. After engaging her in conversation, Eva and I had the temerity to follow her home to see her little patch out back. (We did have to follow her through her whole house to get to the back yard). We talked shop, and I was disappointed to find that I knew at least as much as she did—it turned out my mother already had the grand title of maven of all growing things, and unbeknownst to me, had already taught me a considerable amount. All the names of the plants were familiar, and I already knew the intimate details of how to grow a potato. This is when I first learned that most of what will grow in Idaho will flourish in Alaska (except for tomatoes, sadly). Fortunately, the conversation still yielded fruit despite its lack of fresh encyclopedic knowledge—I found this dear lady at church a few Sundays later. It turns out she’s in my Ward.
Lest you disbelieve my assertions of descending from the very glorious line of greenest of all thumbs, I have included some photos of my childhood home as it looked when it was sold 5 or 6 years ago. Upon parting from her home of two and a half decades, my mother snapped 30 or so shots of the inside of the house, and over a hundred of the yard. You can see where our priorities lie as a family. Do please remember that this was nothing but a patch of gravel and sagebrush when my family first moved here years ago. Sadly, the vegetable garden hadn’t been used in a few years, and the flowers were all but gone, but I think you’ll get the point:
The House, Front Door: the brick walk I set down twice in back in high school, dogwood, tiger lillies, and bishop’s weed (actually a weed anywhere else). Also, a hose because there are no sprinkler systems here.
The Russian Olive, with various flowers, asparagus, and goose berries somewhere underneath.
Trees permanently leaning due to ill effects of the wind. Fruit trees and large spruce: home to the robin family. This tree used to be small enough for the cats to get into and steal those sky blue eggs. My great grandmother's white French Lilac is somewhere over there too (transplanted). Note: the fence is 6 feet tall.
Side of house: Virginia Creeper (weed in other locales), and sweeping branches of the sweetest Crabapple tree. At lower left, you can just see the flower box that used to hold chives and marigolds (to keep away pests). Sweet peas belong to the left, by the basement window. Once I planted Chinese Lanterns in the flower bed as an experiment (super weed). Oops.
Things my step-dad used to tinker around with, made out of cheap scrap wood. Turns out he had an artistic bent, and no one knew it.