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The ‘master’ gardener




Evening Times Editor I come from a long line of green thumbs… on both sides of my family. My grandfather (my Dad’s Dad) could grow anything. He lived on a half-acre plot underneath the old water tower by the courthouse in Marion and every inch of it had something growing on it, with rabbits, chickens, ducks a full vegetable garden and fruit trees. He had at least one tree that had four or five different typed of fruits growing on it. I’m not kidding! I had to look it up on the internet a few years ago just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the whole thing and grafting different fruits or berries to one tree is a real thing.

My grandmother (my Mom’s Mom) was the same, only devoting her efforts to her lawn. She had perfectly trimmed hedges in the front, big blooming flowers in the back and she would take a little wicker basket and get on her hands and knees in the yard plucking weeds and anything that wasn’t the “right kind” of grass from the lawn, to the point that the groundskeeper at Augusta National would have been jealous.

And they passed this all down to my parents. My Dad is nearly 80 years old, but he’s still got his garden in the backyard. Just the other day, he was showing me his tomatoes and potatoes and cucumbers and such, already coming up out of the ground. He’s got a jar of homemade pepper sauce in the kitchen cabinet that’s almost as old as I am.

My Mom too. She’s got bushes and flowers and such all over the front and back yard. Every time I go over there in the spring and summer, I don’t even go inside. I just head around back because I know that’s where I’ll find her – watering or weeding or just sitting on the back porch swing admiring her handiwork.

My daughter even has the gift. She has her flower bed, her vegetable garden and every window sill in our house has something in a pot growing in it – herbs and green onions in the kitchen, succulents in the living room, all manner of plants in her bedroom.

Me? Well, I won’t say I’ve got the “green” thumb. Maybe more of a sage or seafoam thumb? I have been hot and cold over the years on flower beds and such. These days, I am content to just have a few hostas and crepe myrtles out front. If those names mean nothing to you, trust me when I say they are very low maintenance and impossible-to-kill plants. You just stick them in the dirt and they fend for themselves.

The one exception to this: My apostle lilies. They are actually my wife’s apostle lilies, given to her by her mother (who has a dark, verdant green thumb of her own). She charged me with their care about five years ago and I immediately gave two of the six bulbs to my mother.

The very next year, she called me to let me know hers were blooming. She sent me a photo and sure enough, there were 12 little buds opening up at the end of a long slender stalk (the 12 blooms, like the 12 apostles, is where the flower gets its name).

I went outside to see if mine were also blooming. Nope… not even a little. I waited all spring and summer, but nope. The same thing happened the next year… and the next year. By the third year, my Mom’s lilies had reproduced, giving her four. I decided my four were just in the wrong spot, so I moved them to a little triangle patch of dirt between our driveway and the sidewalk.

My mother told me they would definitely not bloom the year after being moved, but I didn’t care, since they weren’t blooming anyway. And sure enough, they did not… even though my Mom’s bloomed twice last year. I was ready to just pull them up and put a birdbath or a ceramic frog there instead.

So, when they came up last month and started shooting out leaves, I didn’t get too excited, accepting the fact that my “apostles” were all apparently Judases. But this past Sunday, when we got home from church, my wife excited says, “Well, would you look at that!”

And lo and behold, coming out of the leafy patch in the triangle of dirt was a long slender stem with a splaying bunch of blooms. I was probably more excited that any 50-year-old man should be about his flowers blooming but I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to my Mom. She was probably just as happy for me as I was. I half expected her to send me back a picture of hers with like a 13th bloom or something but no, she was just glad mine were finally blooming.

So … I guess be sure to like and subscribe for more tips and tricks from the new Master Gardener and you too can have a green thumb!

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