Gardening skills slowly beginning to grow

As we move from fall into winter, I am reluctant to see those beautiful flower beds pulled up.

As we move from fall into winter, I am reluctant to see those beautiful flower beds pulled up, especially mine – after all, it took me 10 years to get it to look like that.

Despite being married to Mr. Community in Bloom, I’ve never been a gardener – couldn’t grow a house plant to save my soul; even silk plants in my place look faded and unloved.

I always wondered what it is with me that I couldn’t grow anything.

When I was a kid in Trail, nothing really grew here. There wasn`t a blade of grass in East Trail; surrounding hills were barren rocks; and my own back yard was a solid patch of black dirt.

Yes, the Cominco-of-the-day employed gardeners. My uncle, Doug Montgomery, was one of them. He and others spread a bit of colour in various spots around town.

Besides Tadanac, I remember roses beside the stairs at the end of the old bridge at Butler Park and a few rose beds at Sandy Island (Gyro Park).

Back then, the park was an oasis in a bleak desert.

I fondly remember the big ol`rock-walled concession building where you could get ice cream; and there was an open covered stage where the Maple Leaf Band performed in the summer.

My favourite street was Pine Avenue as it was the only place that grew huge lush trees.

Neighbourhoods around town had small wading pools for children and I used to walk to the one at Butler which was a desert of packed sand. But at the far end, by the wading pool, there were some tall thinly-leafed trees providing shade, but only a few tuffs of grass. No lawn to speak of.

The only garden I ever saw was my grandfather’s (mother’s side) in Fruitvale.

It was the most beautiful place in my four-year-old world. Grampa Charlie could make anything grow, it seemed. Nasturtiums were his flower-of-choice. He grew them in little beds lined with white-painted rocks. He even white-washed the trunks of the trees.

My favourite memory of his little yard was a “lake” of rhubarb leaves.

Grampa Charlie built wooden paths throughout his garden, including a bridge over a rhubarb patch where giant leaves made up the “water.” I loved it.

Through the years, I never bothered to try and grow anything. Trail was barren, hence so was I. (Oh, children I could grow. Flowers I couldn’t.) Can’t tell you how many houseplants met their doom under my care.

Then in 2000, we moved from our bare patch in East Trail up to Columbia Heights.  We were attracted to the large yard, lovely lawn and a long, promising, rock bed. I wanted a garden.

For the next ten years, I spent copious amounts of money trying to get something – anything – to  grow.

Of course, I started with Grampa Charlie’s nasturtiums. One year I had the biggest round leaves you ever saw, but no flowers.

I had some success with grasses, however that spikey horseweed stuff wouldn’t give me a break. A peony bush and rhododendron finally took root.  And I even got a few roses to bloom.

But alas – last year, I attended a gardening class (or seminar somewhere). And I learned something I hadn’t quite grasped before.

Plants apparently need to be watered. Oh, and a bit of fertilizer is good.

Enter Miracle Grow.

For a solid year now, I’ve been keeping my house plants alive. In fact, one surprised the hell out of me in the spring by producing an odious flower that filled my entire house with its beautiful scent.

But the best has been my flower bed.

I’d pretty much mastered outdoor patio pots using that spikey plant and geraniums.

In the spring, I went on-line to see what I could do about this one difficult area under some needle-dropping fir trees.

The answer was a “woodland garden.” I went to work planting hostas, bleeding hearts and Jack Frost. In another spot, I put in a row of begonias and then a few dahlia bulbs, zinnias, asters, painted daisies, and black-eyed Susans

Wow! Now I had something.

This summer, a friend entered me in the garden contest and I got second place for my patio.

Now I can’t wait for next year.

I think I’ll experiment putting those taller-growing flowers at the BACK of the bed and the shorter ones at the front so you could actually see them. (Why don’t they put that on the package?)

I’ll also stick in some posts or something so the flowers will stand up, rather than developing spaghetti stems.

Maybe I’ll even join the garden club!

Do you think I’m ready?

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