My Garden Legacy

I must have been six or seven when I first remember eating fresh peas straight off the vine in my grandmother’s garden.  Wow. I will never forget that pop of sweetness on my tongue! And no carrot ever tasted fresher, or more flavorful than those I pulled straight out of that black Manitoba soil, with no seasoning except a bit of residual dirt. I learned to love garden vegetables early. My grandmother had a huge garden. While I don’t know the actual dimensions, suffice it to say, one could easily get lost in there– or safely sneak fresh goodies without fear of getting caught! I loved that paradise.  It was magical. Grandma grew absolutely everything in that garden. I wish I could talk to her now, and hear what she would have to tell me about it.  When I was growing up in Kansas, my parents usually planted a vegetable garden, and my mom always loved her red geraniums and bright orange begonias just like her mother did. But other things held my attention back then. Now in my adult life, I have always enjoyed a garden. Every year I marvel at the miracle of a seed. The Great Force of life that pushes goodness out of dirt, scraps, waste, and refuse. Such a beautiful metaphor for grace, love and forgiveness, such a perfect symbol for the renewal of spirit and blooming of the soul—true transformation.

I like to think that part of my grandmother lives on in me. My mother and several family members living locally are lucky to have a start from Grandma’s fuchsia peonies that once thrived in my grandmother’s magical garden.  Though I cannot bring plants across the Canada/US Border, I cherish some of those family peonies from my mother’s home in South Bend before they moved. And though my vegetable garden, of course, does not even begin to compare to Grandmother’s, who grew hers to feed her large family of 13 children, I believe my flower garden may not be far off. This season I hope to stretch my flower growing capacity once again as I try my hand at starting seeds indoors.  Many of the seeds are flowers that she grew, like cosmos, zinnias, snapdragons, sweet peas, four-o’clocks, marigolds and petunias.  I am reminded of Grandmother every spring when I get out and start digging in that great, green earth. The days are getting longer now, and I’m starting to feel the gardening bug. It’s time to start getting my peas and carrots and potatoes in the ground. I am ever so grateful to my Grandmothers–both of them. They inspired me to love the earth, to treat it well and realize it will give back three thousand-fold both in beauty and in bounty. I have so much gratitude to them for their amazing, determined efforts to feed their families well–and for that little garden bug planted in my soul.

Previous article | Contents | Next article

About the author

Laurel Gerbrandt

I am a mother of two grown boys, who are still working on their flying wings. My husband, Ron, works full time as a middle school teacher in Lawrence. Though once I felt a call to be a preschool teacher, I began to feel the job was more emotionally and physically taxing than I was comfortable with. Though the pandemic gave me a perfect excuse to leave my job, staying home this winter was harder than I thought. I dealt with depression and a lack of energy, motivation and purpose. The darkness of winter is always difficult for me. Perhaps that is why spring is such a long-awaited and welcome relief. The darkness gives way to light. The very ground beneath us explodes with life, and what marvelously colorful life it is.

Since I was a young girl, I have loved making art. Spring and fall are both times of great inspiration for me, the great opening and the closing of the doors. Both transformations are disarmingly beautiful. My love for color and beauty in the natural world are often hard to contain. Which is why I use photography, flower gardening, and painting as a release. It is a great solace for my soul.

I recently started a membership group on Facebook for those who struggle with depression and lack of self-worth. Having found so many groups online that helped me through the Dark-of-winter this year, it is my desire to help others find a similar sense of calm and joy through art and through a supportive community of creatives. It is called Paint Something Lovely. The business page is still under construction, but I hope to be open by May. Look me up if you are so inclined!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *