As a 50-something, I have lived most of my life in the Washington, D.C. area. I was raised by a career G.I. Joe, and a stay-at-home gardener, wine maker, and creative genius.
Charged with earning the money to get my sisters and me to Disneyworld, something we desperately wanted, our Mom taught us to grow our own food in our backyard garden, and how to sell it back to her and our neighbors.
I sprouted my green thumb at 9, as I soon found out that there is nothing in this world that tastes better than a home-grown tomato, warmed by the sun, and fresh from the vine.
Nothing pleased me more than picking out a new variety of perennial or annual and getting my hands (and invariably everything else) dirty when putting it into the ground.
When I bought my first house at 25, I will never forget one of the first things I did after moving in. I spent the night working with my horticulturist friend Susan planting a new front garden in the pouring rain. We were soaked, but the plants were happy. When I drive by that first house today, I take great pleasure in seeing how the bones of that garden remain, and how the tiny red bud sapling is now as big as the house.
Growing stuff was good for me, as I often took better care of my garden than I did anything else. Not every green thumb is as lucky as I was to find a kindred gardening spirit in the man I would marry–a man who came from a non-traditional farming background. His parents farmed tropical fruits, herbs, teas and tisanes (herbal remedies) in the Virgin Islands.
The combination of beautiful tropical foliage, flowers and delicious avocados and passion fruit that surrounded us when we went home to visit, inspired us to grow more things in our own backyard in the states.
I learned the depth of the great talent and knowledge my father in law possessed when he came to visit. He taught me about transplanting, and lines, and landscaping so that things looked, in his simple but perfect description, “pretty.”
Midlife saw me raising two great kids, running a household, volunteering for endless events at the kids’ schools and even working a wage earning job here and there. But, none of that really stirred my creative juices…and I knew they needed to be stirred.
Enter stage left, an off-the-cuff remark from my friend Anne and her mother about an opportunity to take a class at the National Cathedral to learn the basics of flower arranging. I agreed to try it out and after those few days and that class, I found it was an incredibly rewarding experience.
I found something I loved to do and I have not looked back.
I now am in my 6th year of volunteering at the Cathedral, and I rarely walk away from the work without having learned something valuable from any one of the very talented people there. I look forward to my work there each month, especially with the creative opportunities that present themselves around holidays.
In terms of bringing my love of flowers home, I plot every day to make my tiny suburban yard a cut-able resource for my own work with flowers. I experiment with growing things that cause a stir in the hyper-landscaped neighborhoods around Washington, D.C.
I actively seek out opportunities to learn more, to apply what knowledge I have gained and to share it with others.
This blog is a long time coming and it’s a natural extension of my lifelong path through the garden. I would love it if you would join me on this adventure to see what we can have fun with along the way!