Most gardeners I know got the gardening bug from their mothers or grandmothers. My mother, however, has the brownest thumb going and neither of my grandmothers had gardens to speak of. As I sit here on Father’s Day, I realize that I got the gardening bug from men! So, it seems like a good day to honor my three garden MENtors.
My father was the one in our family who had the vegetable garden in the summers. The taste of those fresh tomatoes on warm summer mornings when we had our breakfasts outside still lingers. Mmmmmmm. We had terrible soil at our house in Wayzata, but it didn’t deter him from planting tomatoes, radishes, beets, and even corn one year. We still have “tomato wars” every summer! His favorite is the big Beefsteak, although he’s discovered a new favorite in recent years – the Juliet. I have a memory of tomatoes and cucumbers being Fed-exed one year because of an overabundance for one of us and crop failure for the other.
By the time I got to junior high, I had met Pa Jondahl, who had the biggest vegetable garden I’d ever seen AND he grew roses. I learned a lot from him over the years, and as a wedding gift he came to the St Paul house and tilled up a plot for a vegetable garden and brought some of my favorite raspberries so I could have them in my own garden. Pa Jondahl was also the one who told me that my blueberries needed to have s-e-x before I’d get berries.
As an adult, I met Steve Danielson, a good friend, and great landscape designer. He taught me that there’s more to great design than curb appeal, which is seen mostly by people driving or walking by your house. Steve’s designs take into account what you see from the inside of your house, sitting and standing from all rooms. I remember moving empty pots around the yard at the St Paul house and sticking shovels, garden forks, and other implements in the ground to emulate future plantings and then running in the house from room to room imagining what the plants would look like! It was a time consuming process, but well worth it.
Pa Jondahl is gardening in heaven now, but Pops and Steve are here, sharing their gardening passion with the rest of us. Happy Father’s Day to you all, and thank you, for the gardening gifts and love of the earth you’ve given to me.