Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Gardening That Was

Before I started making jewelry, and before there was a Zack, I was a gardener. Not just any gardener -- a gardener who didn't know a thing about flowers or vegetables before she decided that THIS was what she MUST do.

I had a very tiny vegetable patch at my very tiny house in Charlottesville, so when Rick and I got married and moved into a nice, large house with a huge yard, I rubbed my hands together in glee and started plotting.

Here is what the backyard looked like before (and please forgive the quality of the photos, as they're scans of film -- no digital back then!).

Rick's middle son, Colin, helped translate what I drew on graph paper to the actual ground. Rick's oldest, Ryan, and Rick himself rented an industrial-grade roto-tiller and tore up the ground, measured, marked, laid down timbers, and filled the pathways with mulch. Here's the result.

Each plot was about 10x10, give or take. I planted a ton of tulips around the outer edge, then mums and petunias, so there would be a flower "fence". I set in two huge metal wash tubs to the front right and left (barely visible above) and filled each with three different types of herbs. A huge pot was set at the end of the center walkway, planted with a rose bush.

The next part was planting. I decided to grow organic, and grow from seed as much as I could. I particularly love heirloom tomatoes, and got those started under a huge grow light that took up the dining room table for a long time:

The problem was my cat, Max, would pat them down as soon as they'd peek a little green up. I had to build a cardboard fence all around the plants and tape it to the light to keep him out!

Here's the garden mid-season.

I planted onions, peas (which the rabbits ate and I never harvested), Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, four types of lettuce (sown in a pattern, so they grew in a design), peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, six types of herbs, and tomatoes.

Ah, tomatoes.

I planted 48 bushes.

Yup. Forty-eight.

No one told me how prolific tomatoes are. And all of them grew to my height (5'2"). I had planted two of each type, so not only did I have 48 tomato bushes, but 24 different strains.

I picked at least a bushel a day. I went up and down the street giving them away. It got to where they wouldn't answer my knock anymore and I'd have to leave them in paper bags, knock, and run away. (Not really. But close). I did can some, but there wasn't enough time in the world.

In addition to the vegetable garden, we had tons of flower gardens --eight, in fact. The previous owner of the house had planted NOTHING, so we got busy.

This was my favorite bed -- it had a lilac tree, a huge chunk of rock, and 700 bulbs that we planted to guarantee that there would be something coming up all the time. This garden was on the corner of our property, and we often had people stop and look. The photo just does NOT do it justice (the back alliums hadn't bloomed yet, for instance).

And when the summer flowers died, we planted winter flowers.

These were some of my favorite -- lisianthus -- because a) they're purple, and b) they were in my bridal bouquet.

There were always cut flowers in the house, it seemed.

So you can see, I really, truly throw myself into each and every endeavor I undertake. I do that now with my jewelry. I may not have had classical education in the art of jewelry design, but I didn't need it -- I learned from trial and error. I keep the forty-eight tomato plants in mind when I think I MUST have EVERY bead known to man, and ten strands of it at that.

So, what are your passions?



  1. Anonymous4:39 PM

    I had forgotten about how much time you spent gardening before Zack was born.

    For me, right now, it's the new house. Once we're in, it will be transforming the bare yard into a mature landscape.

  2. Very impressive how you throw yourself into stuff - full out! The gardens look amazing. I about fell out of my chair when I read 48 tomato plants though!

    Great post!

  3. Wow, what beautiful flowers. I just love having fresh cut flowers in the house, especially some that I've grown myself. It's interesting how our passions change over the years to make way for new hobbies and loves!


  4. Oh yeah, Stefani! When I tell other gardeners that, there are often deep intakes of breath and wide eyes, and I just KNOW they're thinking "What were you thinking!"


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