Gram’s Gardener

- JANET CHAFIN Monroevill­e, Pennsylvan­ia


began when I was a small girl in the 1970s.

In late spring, when the air was brisk and the sun shone brightly, my grandmothe­r—wearing an apron she sewed out of fabric scraps—dropped to her knees with a well-worn trowel and worked with me by her side. (I was the only grandchild who shared her fondness for plants.)

Neatly, she created furrows. Then, lending me her “digger,” as she called it, she told me how deep and wide to dig. We deposited a few seeds (zinnias and marigolds) into each row. Using an old screen, she sifted chunks of hardened earth into soft soil, which we later scattered over the seeds. (Gram viewed purchasing potting soil as wasteful.) Next, we watered until the ground was sufficient­ly moist. I drank in that glorious aroma of fresh, wet dirt and loved the way it made me feel so close to nature.

Then came the waiting. In a few weeks, we’d see sprouts burst forth, and before long lush beauty inhabited the formerly dormant area. As the season progressed, we weeded and watered together. As the blooms expired, we collected seeds to plant the next spring.

Today, I, too, plant my garden from seeds I harvested the previous year. I reminisce about working alongside Gram, and I remember her advice: “Marigolds should be deadheaded to maximize the blooms. Don’t water in the bright sun.”

It would be easier to buy plants at the local nursery, but growing Gram’s way reminds me of her. That’s why I plant seeds. Gram wasn’t just sharing a beloved hobby with me, she was nurturing me. And for that, I’m so thankful. Each spring, it’s as if I’m opening a gift from her.

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