I have always been a gardener, I think — I love to be IN gardens, I love to TALK “gardens,” and I love to CREATE gardens.

There is a strange shift, however, when one moves away from “gardens” with annuals and shorter-lived perennials to plants that could conceivably be enjoyed by people two or three HUNDRED years away. There is a sense of hopefulness and eternity when one plants a tree, or a rose bush. There is a sense of purpose when one cultivates fruit trees alongside carrots or strawberries.

When I was a child, we ALWAYS had a vegetable garden (at least after I turned 7, we didn’t have a garden in Puerto Rico, or when we lived on base anywhere that I know). My grandfathers (2 out of 3) always had a vegetable garden, and my Grandad made sure that there were gorgeous flowers as well.

As a young adult, I grew things in pots, and at a couple apartment complexes, had permission to take a small bit of land at the margins, too.

One of the first things we did when we moved to this land, was to plant trees… apple, pear, plum, cherry, peach, dogwood, fig, medlar, chestnut. Many of the trees were planted to provide shade for the land that had previously been forested, knowing that as they grew they would create an oasis of cool green during our typically dry summers. We didn’t restore the “natural” landscape, but carved out a small space for favorite specimens from around the world. We left the back yard “mostly” natural…

My sons grew up knowing plants. I taught them the healing properties and health benefits of the plants in our yard including the native plants and weeds! They still know how to prune, when to harvest, proper preparation for cooking, and a lot about planting and maintaining gardens from one-season crops to tender perennials/hardy annuals to permanent plantings.

I had planned to have the yard to a point by now when I could safely get about even with a wheelchair, but as we know that didn’t happen! Instead, I am rethinking many things about the less-permanent plants, and attempting to re-establish both irrigation and garden beds. Growing older has meant that I cannot garden as intensely as once-upon-a-time, but I hope I am starting to show the children of the next generation that with planning and a lot of hard work at the beginning that gardening yields huge rewards.

I have learned much from the plants (and the animals) in my small world: take your time, don’t cut corners if they yield an inferior or less-durable result, rest as you need (still working on this), sometimes “things happen” and like it or not plans must change, gardens are best enjoyed with other people, and one needs to be patient – you don’t rush genius! I am still working on that last bit as well!

As a teacher, I have a lot less time and energy to garden. But I bring my gardener’s mind and experience into the classroom. Remembering that children are growing, but so are adults. We are not “finished” products yet! The garden continues to grow, to evolve, to become “more” — and so will we.

Bright blessings from our garden on this cool, overcast Salish Sea morning!