My Daughter, the Gardener



Gardening in my family is an inherited characteristic — if there’s any potential that something will grow, we stick it in the ground and fuss over it. We swap seeds, bring perennial starter plants to share whenever we go to see our siblings, and have extensive discussions on the merits of one tomato or green pole bean over another. We even pass along small trees. When we visit, we don’t sit in the living room and chat, we go out and make rounds in the garden. My daughter, however, has insisted for years that the gene missed her and that she is NOT a gardener, Mother!

I know better. There’s no way that at least six generations of gardening genes will not eventually overwhelm environmental factors or the innate stubborn resistance of my offspring. Knowing what I know, I’ve been encouraging that DNA every chance I get. I’ve been very subtle about it: “You know, those bedrooms would be cooler with something like a trellis. You could plant something easy like morning glories.” “I’m going to have to divide these iris — you want a few?” “I have to get these rosemary plants out of the pots; they’re getting root-bound and I don’t have a good spot for them. You have any room?” I knew I was making progress when she received a new lawn, admittedly small, but still a lawn, as a birthday present a year or so ago. She was as thrilled as if it had been a diamond necklace. Given that I’m the sort who would rather have a backhoe bucket full of well-rotted manure for my birthday than dinner or a night on the town, I could see progress.

I began to notice that when I went out at night to shut up the chickens, she would be pottering around setting the sprinkler to water her little lawn, or weeding among the iris. Last fall she actually transplanted some perennial plants. This spring she finally went whole hog and started beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers, chased the marauding deer off when they tried to come by for a snack, covered the plants when it looked as though it might be a cold night, and generally behaved as a true-blue member of a gardening clan should behave. She and the middle granddaughter transplanted all her pea and bean seedlings into the new kitchen garden in the middle of a sudden rainstorm. Still, she continues to insist that she is NOT a gardener, Mother!

That’s fine, dear, you can call yourself whatever you want. I know my genes will triumph in the end. (Happy Birthday, kid, I love you!)

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