I have always loved gardening. In Connecticut, where I grew up, I remember my Mom and Dad’s huge veggie garden. We had corn, beans, peas, squashes of all kinds, tomatoes, cukes, and melons. My Dad planted peanuts and potatoes so we kids could see how they grew. He grew raspberries and pumpkins.. I think as much for the grandkids as for him. There were always rows of Mom’s “cut and come again” zinnias and my Dad’s pink dahlias planted in long rows at the edge. My Mom planted snapdragons, marigolds, blue ageratum , sweet alyssum and other annuals in a long bed in front of the fieldstone walls overlooking the veggie garden and the field. The perennials I remember most were the peonies. My Dad also had fruit trees – peaches, pears, apples, plums, and apricots. We always helped pick the veggies and were often pressed into service deadheading the zinnias, weeding, watering etc. I remember some nights swatting the mosquitoes away while trying to get all the beans picked before dark. Child labor? You bet! My parents froze those veggies, and we ate our own produce all winter long.
Although most of my early gardening experiences were about growing our own food and having pretty flowers in the house, I also remember creating little gardens from acorns, moss and twigs at our cabin in Maine in the summertime. I guess I made fairie gardens before they became fashionable. I’ve always needed to have something growing no matter where I lived. After college and marriage ( the apartment days in Minnesota), it was often only a tomato plant on a patio, an herb in a windowsill, or “Fred” the giant philodendron to feed my gardening habit. Oh how I longed for my own plot of dirt.
We moved back East and as we moved from house to house – Connecticut , to Rhode Island , and now Massachusetts, I learned stuff. The gardens weren’t much in the beginning… marigolds, blue ageratum, sweet alyssum, zinneas, snapdragons – mostly the stuff my Mom had planted. I carved small veggie gardens out of the yard – those first tomatoes were fantastic. There wasn’t a lot of time for creativity with remodeling, raising kids, moving around, but when we moved from Connecticut to Rhode Island, I tried some perennials. My Mom brought some Jacob’s Ladder as a housewarming gift, and she dug up some of her favorite mums. One sister gave me lilies for my birthday. Another brought me plants from her own garden. I started reading about gardens and visiting nurseries and finding out that I just had to have more plants. I didn’t have a lot of space…..probably a good thing. So although we lived in Rhode Island for 20 years, my collection of plants wasn’t huge…. also a good thing because when we moved to Massachusetts, I took a lot of my plants with me. I dug pieces of that Jacob’s Ladder and the lilies and pieces of all the special plants that mean something to me to start a new garden in 2001.
My gardening knowledge has expanded greatly – due to my garden club friends, a lot of reading, and trial and error. My plant collection has grown – oh my has it grown. With this blog, I hope to share the ups and downs of creating and maintaining my special garden here in Massachusetts. Welcome to Gramma Penny’s Garden.