Childhood garden memories can have a strong influence on our direction later in life. For me, the family vegetable plot was a key player. We had a small, hillside space of perhaps 500 square feet; and dad (who worked at a nursery) was constantly trying new crops. Personal favorites of this then 6-year old boy included strawberries, blueberries and carrots. But not all of my garden memories are happy. There were weeds to pull, wasps to avoid, and that one year when my father had us grind the horseradish roots for a condiment (tears).

pickles-in-bottle - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffBy the time I was 9, I rode the bus to Oregon to spend time with relatives each summer. Grandma Grace tended a small garden on the banks of the Rogue River where berry bushes and apple trees thrived. Great Auntie May had the coolest overgrown bamboo garden on the shore of Lake Oswego. And then there was my Uncle Jack, whose 100 acre, working farm in Vancouver taught me just how hard that work can be. 

Time on the farm was a real eye-opener for this suburban California kid. Horses, cattle, tractors and dirt bikes provided an exciting experience, but my most vivid memories were smells; the warm fragrance of freshly cut alfalfa (hoisting those bales wasn’t easy), and the pungent aroma of pickling brine as Aunt Jean canned up huge batches of green beans and cucumbers.

These memories and many more involving dirt and plants set me on the path I now follow. If you have young people living under your roof, think about what they will remember. So with that, I urge you to get out and smell the Roses (a good selection at BHN right now). And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to “fix those irrigation leaks and save those drips”.