The gardening bug is something I inherited from both my parents. And, as I discovered, interesting things can happen when your own kids grow up and become gardeners in their own right.
Our two daughters didn’t show a particular interest in gardening when they were children, except for popping the seed pods of balsam, opening the “mouths” of snapdragons, and picking berries. But when they eventually acquired houses of their own, they anointed themselves gardeners. I found myself the default garden/landscape consultant. Of course, my preferences are not always theirs. My wife Lynn is not a gardener, but suspects there’s a gardening issue on the other end of the phone when one of our daughters (ages 52 and 49) calls to ask “Hi … is Dad there?” I have to admit they both put me to shame in terms of the orderliness and neatness of their plantings.
When our older daughter Monica started a small garden, she encountered the bane of many gardeners —rabbits eating up flowers and veggies. On one phone call she asked, “There’s Weed-b-Gone and Bug-b-Gone – isn’t there something like Bunny-b-Gone?” Besides advice, I gave her some plants dug from my garden to add to what she already had. Her ambitions grew and she joined her local gardening club. (Something I never did.) I helped her build a cold frame with a cast-off storm window to jump start some of her veggies. Then she dove deeper, setting up indoor grow lights to start her plants from seed. (Again, something I’ve never tried.)
Our younger daughter Terri and her family live across the street, so I’m often called for an on-site consultation. It took awhile for her to become accustomed to thinning out things that were crowding one another. But she still has a problem with “killing baby plants.”
One of her passions is pumpkins … the really big kind. And lots of them. Several years ago she had a contest with a neighbor to see who could grow the largest. (The neighbor won.) But an unforeseen problem was the gate on her fenced-in vegetable garden, which limits the size of a pumpkin that will pass through. When some of their friends were over, she asked for help hefting a particular pumpkin out of the garden. The guys said they’d take care of it, and decided it would be fun to secretly deposit the pumpkin in the front seat of our son-in-law’s car. He didn’t find it until the next day, and before he left for work decided the only solution was to brace himself and give the big cucurbit a concerted foot launch out the car door. These days she’s still into pumpkins, just not the Dill’s Giant anymore.
(Pumpkins and grandchildren shown at top.)
One pumpkin issue was an apparent infestation of insect eggs buried in the fruit. Our daughter called and described the situation saying she was too squeamish to touch insect eggs and would I come over to take a look. It turned out that what she thought were insect eggs sticking out of the pumpkin rind were actually, well, white plastic BB’s. One of the grandsons owned up to the fact that he thought the pumpkins would make great targets for his BB gun.
BB guns can get you into trouble in other ways. Like the time our son-in-law found a wasp nest in one of their apple trees. He thought he could shoot it down with the gun, as my grandsons and I looked on. Shouldn’t have. We all got stung. I was farther away so got stung less. It was sort of like watching a train wreck.
And then there was the time Terri asked me to take a look at her dying plum tree. The obvious reason was that much of the lower bark had been stripped from the tree. It appeared to be the work of the local deer. We were standing there trying to figure out a solution when her Bernese Mountain dog sauntered up and ripped off a big strip of bark. Aha! The deer were exonerated.
A granddaughter is becoming a gardener too. She has a huge collection of succulents, which she’ll be carting off with her to graduate school this fall. And even one of our grandsons is looking for a houseplant to take to his college dorm this coming school year.
Some of you may be lucky enough to enjoy adventures with gardening-inclined adult children. In a way, the exchange of plants and gardening insights fosters a togetherness that is like a rerun of their growing up years. Always fun. But beware … they might show you up.