A patch of dirt to call my own

When gardening starts in childhood, it’s a constant companion.

Photo by Lucidio Studio Inc./Newscom
SNIFF: A boy in British Columbia gets acquainted with a garden.

I don’t remember ever not having a garden, aside from an occasional year when I wasn’t in one place long enough. My parents gave my sister and me each a patch of our own when I was very small, probably to keep us out of their own garden. It worked.

We were given thinnings from the “adult” gardens, and got to choose a packet of seeds for ourselves whenever we went to a garden center. I remember pansies and violets, nasturtiums, sturdy irises, and daylilies.

Vegetable gardening was limited to planting things that had sprouted in the fridge. For some reason I decided that potatoes ought to be planted in those little hollows between the roots of the big firs and was thrilled with the handfuls of tiny potatoes I unburied in the fall.

Carrots were a disappointment – they grew only tops, and avocados never seemed to grow much of anything.

My first garden was lost under a pile of building supplies when an addition was built onto our house. Having my own room only partially made up for the loss of that garden.

When we moved to acreage in Langley, British Columbia, I got into vegetables, although flowers still rambled through the beds – love-in-the-mist, wild feverfew, and always nasturtiums.

It was my space – a solace through the difficult teen years. I found a constancy to plants that seemed often lacking in the human world.

A few years of moving and travel later, I was growing vegetables again – an allotment plot in the city where I made the typical beginners’ mistake and ended up with bushels of monster zucchini.

There is a simplicity to gardening. The invaders are usually pint size, the devastation they do limited – a row of young cabbages consumed overnight, a prize lily nipped off at the base.

The world is manageable, the rewards as clear as the taste of a freshly pulled carrot or the visual feast of a mass of scarlet poppies.

The amazement that one potato can make many, that one tiny seed can become a flower, was born in my first garden and has never left.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.