My father was known as an artist both on the canvas and in his own yard. He had a talent for gardening that was unmatched. Sure, he would do traditional styles of gardening, but he had his own passion for design. He loved curves and lots of color. He made sure he had perennials that would pop up at different times through the entire growing season. And he always accented with tons of annuals.
Another thing he loved in his gardens were rocks. When I was a kid, there was a terraced bed that I called my "basement." Rocks lined both "stories" of the basement. Flat rocks made up the steps and path that wound through it. He continued this kind of tradition at all of the places he and my mother lived. I remember Mom took over the mowing when Dad's asthma and emphysema became too much for him to handle doing it. She would always curse going around those curves and rocks, but she loved how they all looked.
Dad also would add other things to his garden. He usually had some kind of birdbath and birdfeeders in his yard, because he also liked to birdwatch. Every once in a while, he would purchase some kind of a random piece or yard ornament to include.
Two of my favorites were a rock and a statue. Because my parents had two girls, they ended up with two of those little girl statues. I saved mine, but it is being held for me back home right now. My other favorite was a rock that we bought for him one year for Christmas. It says, "Grow Damnit." It is now in my own yard, awaiting a place of honor.
A lot of my father's gardening rubbed off on me. I love to spend time digging in the dirt. I have dabbled in doing gardening and yard work for other people for summer work. I have my own eclectic style of gardening that doesn't follow traditional rules of layout. I collect rocks to add to my gardens, whether they are from going to the beach or from my many hikes.
When I put in my large perennial bed at this house, my father was here to help me with it. I had reinjured an old break in my leg above my ankle a few days after I had dug up the area. My mom had come out to take care of me for that week and then went back to get Dad for a preplanned visit. While I scooted around on my butt, he helped me to fill in the bed, terrace the steps, and to lay the path and rock border. We spent a week getting it together and it has been coming together nicely over the years. This is a picture of it in spring bloom in the summer of 2009.
That bench, the pathway, and the rocks along the top layer (flush with the sidewalk step) were all lovingly carted by my parents from my place in Ohio. I couldn't bear to leave them behind when I moved. And they fit in perfectly with this garden.
Dad helped me to pick out some of the plants, including the Japanese maple. I did the rest. Over the years I have been adding more bulbs. I have neglected it somewhat these past couple of summers. In 2010 I had to have surgery and last year, well, I didn't feel like it after Dad died. But this year I am slowly bringing it back to life again.
I love to take pictures of the flowers and the garden. I post them on Facebook. One of Dad's favorite things was to check out my daily postings. He would print out his favorites with the intention of possibly painting their picture one day.
Last year when I finally got home from the ordeal, my rose bushes were in bloom like I had never seen before. I like to think that my father had a hand in that somehow.
Some day, I will have to leave this house, to move on to bigger and brighter things. It is going to be awful to leave behind the garden that we built together. But I will always cherish the memories.