Sunday, April 13, 2014

Growing Kids, Growing Garden

It all started the spring of 2006, after my grandparents dying eight weeks apart, my mom going through a major surgery, I was pretty worn out. When I came home from my extended stay in Whittier, my hometown the kids and I were wading through grief together. Death is hard enough, two deaths together is extremely hard. So one day, I decided that the kids and I would plant a memory garden in honor of my grandparents.

Many don't know, I am only a second generation Californian on one side and a first generation on the other. Three out of my four grandparents were from a small corner of southeast Kansas and my Grandma Brown was from Milwaukee, WI ( that is why my family are Greenbay fans for those who've always wondered)

I decided to plant sunflowers to honor my Grandpa's Kansas heritage and Zinnia's because they are known for attracting butterflies. Once in my grandparents backyard, a butterfly landed on my shoulder as my grandma and I conversed. She told me it was a good luck sign, so butterflies have always reminded me of her since then.

The first year, we amended the soil, tilled our little patch in front of our condo, planted seeds and waited. The first sprout poked through and we were thrilled. We came up with a plan to take a picture each week to watch our garden grow. Elizabeth was five and Conner was seven, so I would make them stand in front of the sunflowers to chart their growth each week. At this time, social media was a blog and Myspace, it became a hit with my ''online friends'' and a tradition to follow for many years.


2007 ( look they are hugging)



Then 2010, Marty was really sick, we just stopped planting the garden. Our lives were just dark and tough, getting throug was the goal. The next year after his transplant, we were traveling so much and didn't have time. One year later found us planning to move so we took this substitute picture at Stanford on the first anniversary of Marty's transplant

Last year we just grew Zinnia's which attracted many butterflies, which we loved.

After a three year hiatus, we've planted our sunflowers again. We always plant the beginning of April and see our blooms around July. Sunflowers and I have become a bit synonymous, my friends always sending me gifts with sunflowers. I wait all year to watch the Tour De France which often goes through the sunflower fields in France, I wait all year for that picture on my television screen. 

A few days ago, I posted a picture of my new budding sunflower. I made the quip that I doubted that I could get my bickering teenagers to pose in front of the plants this year. My friend Andrea balked a that, she said the kids must pose, it is tradition. We shall see how it goes......

For my new friends, I wanted to explain the tradition and story behind the sunflowers. As you all know, everything I do has a story or a meaning behind it. One year, one of our sunflowers grew over 17 feet tall, we called it ''Poppa'' just like Conner called my grandpa.

Now I have a collage on my wall of my growing kids in front of the sunflowers. Truly some of our most precious memories have come from gardening together. I will keep you all posted on the progress of the 2014 Tennessee sunflowers.

 My Favorite picture of my garden