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Heirloom Treasures

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Mock Orange

 Gardening is in my blood. Literally. My grandparents on both sides were avid gardeners. My grandfather earned a living as a gardener, and my father would help him trim bushes and mow the lawns of customers. My grandmother on my mother’s side won awards for her beautiful landscaping. Her corner lot was the emerald jewel of the retirement community. So of course, the love of gardening passed through the genes to me.

When my husband, kids and I moved into our family home, the original plans included a wooded lot. Much to our surprise and dismay, the builder cleared the entire area. Legally, we couldn’t do much about it, but we wanted privacy, so we put up a chain-link fence and went “shopping” at my grandmother and parents’ houses. We did buy some trees and large bushes from a local nursery, but most of the perennial plants and flowers came from my gardening relatives.


My mom always had a sapling tree or bush to spare. The first few years, whenever we visited, she would have containers filled with an assortment of flowers for us to take when we went home. After each visit, we would plant late into the night. Before long, our empty backyard was abundant with red maples, quince, lilacs, forsythias, and wisteria.





To me, these heirloom plants represent years of memories. My fig tree, raised from a clipping my grandfather had given me, brings me back to his small Brooklyn garden with its tiny hedges, tomato plants in containers on a cement patio and the pièce de résistance- a green and white metal glider. My brothers, cousins and I would fight for turns on the magical seat every time we visited.




My maternal grandmother downsized to a small ranch in her later years, but the house was blessed with a large piece of barren property. Flower beds, spring bulbs, and vegetables sprung up through the ground from her hard work. She lived there many years and her gardens were showcased in the community paper. Here are some of the plants I was fortunate to receive from her beautiful garden.

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Both my grandparents passed away years ago. Their houses sold to new people. Some of their plantings survived the change in ownership, but most were removed to make way for newer landscaping projects. That’s okay because the foliage thrives in my gardens, and my family and I find joy in remembering the original owners and their love of gardening.





Gardener/writer Elizabeth John has been gardening ever since owning her first home. Her favorite thing about gardening is seeing pops of bright colors in her flower beds. When she’s not gardening she’s writing sweet contemporary romances and cozy romantic suspense novels. You can learn more about her at http://www.elizabethjohn.com.