Plus, My ‘Prodigal Gardener’ Story
This season has been a big return to gardening. As I’m writing this, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic with a shelter in place order for our city. While it’s a heavy time, something beautiful has emerged—a return to nurturing and enjoying the outdoors.
The New York Times wrote an interesting article about the rise of gardening this spring due to these uncertain times. Yet, the article also warned in comparison to the Victory Gardens of World War II, of the enormous drop in gardeners after the first year.
In an effort to encourage new gardeners, like me, but also nurture beginners to persevere even through first-time failures, I created a Facebook Group for gardeners of all levels, experiences, locations, etc.
The Growers Collaborative is a gardening community for anyone who has a passion or desire to learn more about gardening. I started the Facebook group with my gardening friends Bailey and Tara, as the three of us hope to facilitate a community and a movement of gardeners that last beyond the fears of today.
My Garden Story
Gardening as a Child
I think every child loves the dirt, flowers, and everything that crawls or buzzes by. I was no exception.
Whenever my mom had new flowers to put in the bed, I was by her side naming the earthworms and kissing the flowers’ faces.
Gardening in Hawaii
By the time I was eight-years-old, I started my own garden and a garden club consisting of me and neighbors kids from our block. I grew flowers with what we had: cheap seeds, paper cups and I used water dripping from the window air conditioner units to grow Morning Glories, Sunflowers and more.
My dad was in the military and we were stationed in Hawaii at the time. Apparently, my ‘Sunflower Club’ playhouse is still in use at the base.
Gardening in Puerto Rico with a Martha Stewart Intern
Later on, in Puerto Rico, my obsession with Martha Stewart had taken off. I recorded her show every day via VHS and would take notes and attempt every project she did as best I could.
At eleven years old, I sent a letter to her company to let them know I was ready for training to take her place one day. Not weird for a pre-teen to do, right?
Someone replied with a letter and packet! My mom thinks it was an intern, ha! They’d sent me pictures of Martha at my age and encouraged me to learn as much as I could.
I wanted a beautiful cottage garden like hers at Turkey Hill, but alas, we lived on rock—literally. We lived on the top of a cliff right by the ocean.
I studied hard, I read books. I learned about the soil’s ph balance. All of my homeschool science projects were based around organic gardening. With lots of studying, care and prayers, I grew lettuce, onions, spinach, limes and as many flowers as possible in a tiny square by our back door.
Growing Up and On without Gardening
As I grew, time for gardening went away. I focused more on school and then, my pursuit of becoming a professional ballerina.
My husband assured me when we got married that the area of Oklahoma where we lived, called Green Country, was great for growing whatever I wanted.
I never dove into gardening, again, because every waking moment for several years was spent building my entrepreneurial dreams. Every time a garden or farm story came through my magazine’s submissions, I’d file it away in my mind that I’d get back to the dirt.
Yet, gardens played an important role, still.
I decided to start my own magazine while on vacation in a garden at Walt Disney World. Then, I decided to close the magazine in a garden in Colorado.
It’s no surprise the queen of flowers Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers and her husband Chris graced our final cover.
Starting Over at Our Farmette
After selling my businesses in 2019, which was three years after we had moved to our farmette property, I decided it was time to get back into gardening. But, I was nervous.
It had been so long since I had had a formal garden. Sure, I tended to flower beds and pots, but it felt like I was starting all over again, from zero. And, it was a bit intimidating.
My Garden Hopes
Community is Everything
As I’m writing this, I’ve killed tons of seedlings. We’re expecting potential snow when just a few days ago the temperature was in the 90’s. So yeah, this return to the earth has been a little less romantic than I’d hoped.
But, there are a few (hundred) reasons why despite a rocky start, I’m confident and hopeful about my gardening future. What is it? The Growers Collaborative and the friends I have made there. Some, I would even call my mentors.
And what I have learned most is that I am not alone.
Just like Joanna Gaines
I shared some of my gardening woes on my Instagram, and someone DM’d me that Joanna Gaines confessed to failing at her first garden. Now, look at her.
I don’t have the same aspirations as Joanna Gaines or Martha Stewart—I don’t have their stamina, ha! But I do want to learn as Martha did and persevere as Joanna to create my own little world for my family.
The point isn’t whether or not you fail, but whether or not you get back in the dirt and keep learning.
Follow Me & My Garden
Maybe you are a master gardener, maybe you are totally new, or maybe you’re like me, a Prodigal Gardener. If there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far, it’s that gardeners are some of the most tenacious, wise and generous people I’ve ever encountered.
If you’d like to watch my wins, and losses, of my gardening adventures, be sure to follow me on my Instagram.
And if you too are looking for community and wisdom, come join the party over on The Growers Collaborative!