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Denise: I wish I could tell you I was born with a love for gardening, but that wouldn't be true! One of my earliest childhood memories is of my sunny bedroom, smothered window to window with my mother's houseplants. Scented Geraniums, African Violets, Christmas Cacti, and Begonias. I had no fondness for them, because I was a tidy child and they dropped leaves and blossoms everywhere! Memories also include an abundance of chores, which included keeping the vegetable gardens weed-free and helping my mother fill the pantry with home canned goods.
Lisa: My fondest early memories were of watching my dad mow the lawn on Saturdays and the smell of freshly cut grass. I loved watching the birds in the two big walnut trees outside my bedroom window.
I can also remember my Mother eagerly awaiting the arrival of more african violet seeds in the mail. She would spend hours planting them with tweezers and a magnifying glass. We had african violets everywhere, thoughout the house. Denise: Weekly trips to my grandmother's farm included a hearty protest and more weeding as we had also tended to another large vegetable garden there.
Before the journey back home, my grandmother led us on a leisurely stroll along the stone walls surrounding the farm, to view her long flower borders. This seemed to take forever... I would not have expected things to unfold as they have, and from this point across time the memories swell my heart with comfort, for knowing where my roots began. Lisa: I have very fond memories of our weekly trips to Hathaway's Nursery. My mother always had to resupply her love of flowers. We had tons of roses, night blooming jasmine and colorful flowers everywhere. A lot of my time was spent watching and catching the butterflies attracted to the flowers, especially her marigolds. I was actually got pretty good at catching them too!
Of course all kids have to have a secret place to go to. Mine was across the street in Mrs. Crowley's rose garden. I spent many hours "tending " her roses. They seemed to be giants, as I was very short and they were tall. She probably had the
most over watered, over fertilized, and over anything else you can think of, roses. I felt like I could get lost in her rose garden and stay forever. She was obviously a very sweet lady, since she never ran me off. All these instilled a love of roses that has lasted my entire lifetime.
Denise: During my young adulthood, winter hours were spent reading and rereading garden books and drawing plans for garden beds and artsy yard things. Summer months were spent poking for garden treasures at tag sales, and learning to garden by trial and error. I have several journals filled with nursery receipts and drawings, inspiring magazine pictures and newspaper clippings. I started doing my own canning, filling the pantry to feed my own young family. It was about this time that I took up sewing and crafting and attended many classes with my grandmother. Favorite crafts usually always included elements from nature and from my gardens. Herbal wreaths, lavender sachets, topiaries, and potpourri were some of the things I gifted family and friends with.
Lisa: I was always fascinated with my grandmother's pressed flowers and lavender sachets. I remember the little hankies tied up with lavender buds inside, tucked into our drawers of clothes, which led to our discovery of my first allergy (lavender).
Wouldn't ya know it? Her pressed flowers were inside our huge family bible that weighed more than I did, but the smells were incredible. My grandmother was a seamstress, and was an endless source of info and training for my sewing skills. I still have my first sewing machine, and several others and I also have my treasured button collection that was passed from my grandmother to me. Wonderful memories of sitting on her lap while she read my "little golden books" to me. The story of "Chip Chip" the chipmunk and "Bambi" were my favorites. I think that was the early stages of my lifelong love and respect for animals.
Denise: I moved back to my hometown, next door to my childhood home. Summer is spent gardening in a primitive, eclectic, and carefree manner. I've never been a girly girl and don't grow many girly plants. Mostly all the plantings have a purpose, either to sustain us, or to use in my crafting. I do love my shrub roses and hydrangeas, because they're not only beautiful, but I can craft with them. The grounds are packed with vegetable garden beds, perennials, herbs, fruit trees, and shrubs, which thankfully are all thriving while the birds, bees, and butterflies flutter about. The vegetable gardens are planted in raised beds for drainage and easy care. We don't use any chemicals and try to keep things as natural as possible. Everything is heavily mulched with our own shredded leaves, and done in the early spring so that we are weed free til frost. We plant more than enough and then some, so that the wildlife will also get their fill, a theory preached long ago by my grandfather.
I vividly remember my grandfather's cold frames, trellised grapevines, birdhouses, and potting sheds.
They were mere curiosities during my childhood, but are now a source of inspiration. We have built our own coldfame and greenhouse for starting plants, large compost bin, arbors and trellises to give everything structure. However, the plantings are carefree and we try not to stress over things...if something doesn't thrive, we remove it and find a better home for it. Mixed among the plantings are rusty roadside findings, a village of birdhouses, tufa pots, and abandoned architectural treasures. I have an obsession with rocks and we have several rock walls and "sculptures". We also celebrate nature with windmills, whirligigs, rainchains and tin roofs for the rain to ping off of. Lisa: When we located in the Sierra foothills to raise our family, we bought five acres of what seemed like all rocks and red clay dirt. It also was full of manzanita, madrone, wild flowers and California holly, which has been very useful in my art. It was definitely a challenge to carve out our little niche to house my 250 roses, grapes, many flower bulbs, fruit and nut trees. I guess you could say we went overboard on the roses, altho that has dwindled down due to some help.
One of 4 rose gardens and our California Wildflowers in the Spring We built a sunken patio surrounded by a butterfly garden and put stairs to lead to a secluded pond. Our wonderful daughter bought us a lawn swing to overlook this treasured site, which the raccoons really get a kick out of.
Well, everything was going good right up until our beloved dogs died and in moved the wild life. We now have bunnies to tend the flowers and deer to mow the roses to the ground.
We even have a peacock that showed up and moved in and has become the new watch dog. It seems like every cat within 3 miles lives here, but they keep the field mouse population down so we welcome them. Not to forget our rototiller wild turkeys who come through on a daily basis and turn our mulch. We also have the usual suspects...skunks, possums, squirrels, porcupines, foxes, you name it, we got it. I still watch the birds and feed them. We have alot of finches, mourning doves and humming birds. They love to play in the tree off our bedroom and keep us entertained. We see falcons, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, Canadian geese and even a duck recouperated here one winter. He let us bring him in the house and put him infront of the fireplace to warm up. At night there is the serenade of frogs from all the ponds around here. I have even found one swimming in one of our toilets before.
Denise: I confess to a hearty junk pile and shed to store my treasures. Future plans include an antique bathtub fountain, a few more espaliered fruit trees, and a bottle tree. There's always room for one more birdhouse or one more pot of herbs.
Lisa: My yard is mostly an ecletic rambling mess now with all the bushes, vines, trees and other plants having grown to full size. I think most of all, I find greater happiness that the wild life all find our yard a safe haven while their native habitat is being developed out from under them. I am still working on getting a potting shed and the time to use it...let alone some much needed yard work.
Denise: Here's to spring, the smell of dirt, and the warmth of the sunshine!
Lisa: Hey Denise, you know they say it "never rains in sunny California". Who ever wrote that did not live here. It also snows. Yes, here's to spring, flowers and all the wonderful wildlife that will end up in our yards this year~ Lisa
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