Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Garden Man Can

To be clear, neither Tom nor I should be called the "Garden Man". If you had to label us, you might call Tom the "Garden Captain" and me the "Garden First Mate", titles that provide information about our roles in the process but don't necessarily convey success. "Garden Man" - confident, successful, and humble - is my dad.

During the month we spent at my parents' house in Wisconsin I observed firsthand the success of my dad's flower and vegetable gardens. Despite the drought (one of the worst on record in Wisconsin), the majority of his flowers bloomed as brightly as they do every summer and his tomato plants produced a plentiful crop of the most amazing plump, juicy tomatoes. And that compliment comes from someone who doesn't really even like tomatoes.

I paid close attention to my dad's gardening methods and style (I've come to believe that gardening is as much an art as it is a scientific process, which is unfortunate for Tom and me because we're both considerably more scientific in our approach to most things in life) and learned a few helpful hints that I think will help us succeed fail less miserably when we give gardening a second shot next year.

I was of course happy for my dad and his beautiful flowers and delicious tomatoes, but the comments that came from the kids ruined my mood just a little - I heard, "why don't your flowers look like Grandpa Paul's, Mama?" and "Grandpa Paul has SO many more tomatoes than you do, Mama!" more times than I cared to count.

At one point Will suggested I take a few photos of Grandpa's flowers so that when we returned home I could remember what a garden was supposed to look like. So I did. And here's what a garden is supposed to look like.
Orange has been the color of my summer, and I'm
fairly certain it's going to follow me into fall.
Just a simple sweetie.  (I have no idea what this flower is really called.)
Hallie LOVED to make these snapdragons talk.  Grandpa lost an
average of three flowers a day to Hallie's need to converse with them.
I can't stand bees, but for some reason
I really like taking pictures of them.
These flowers create a lovely ground covering.  I'm not sure if they'd grow here
in Texas,  but if they will, I might actually try to grow them next summer.
There's that bee again...
Next to the snapdragons, these were Hallie's favorites.  They're pink.
Grandpa showed Hallie how to take the seeds
from the flowers and replant them.  Maybe next
year we'll just turn the garden over to the kids.
I'm not sure how it's possible, seeing as at least two large (I'm not sure which kind) and 25 small (cherry or grape) tomatoes were picked every evening, but I neglected to take a picture of my dad's tomatoes or tomato garden.  I'll always regret this, primarily because the tomato garden became a special place for Hallie and her Grandpa while we were there.

Each evening, immediately after he returned home from work, my dad and Hallie would pick up a tupperware in the kitchen and head out to the tomato garden together.  Since Hallie is teeny tiny, her job was to carefully weave her way through the six-foot-tall tomato plants, pick the ripe tomatoes, and hand them out to her grandpa.  This job couldn't have been done by anyone except Hallie - adults and even Will would have damaged the plants because of their size, and Lily, who's small like Hallie, wouldn't have been careful enough - which is why tomato harvesting became their something special.

Too bad she never ate a single one.

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