Five generations from Germany, she was a hardworking mother and farmer’s wife. She did not have a lot of spare time, but she made time for her plants. They were gorgeous and one of the few things I remember about her.
The back porch, always used as the entrance was a veritable jungle of greenery, planted in miscellaneous large discarded enamel kitchen pots. Huge ferns dominated the entrance along with a star flower plant that every year had the largest bloom I have ever seen.
In the cold winter she would put these plants in the unheated dark hall that ran down the center of the old house. They always survived to live another year on the back porch.
When I was eight she gave me a dahlia root.
What an adventure her yard was!
The front of the house was surrounded by butterfly bushes, always trimmed to a rectangular shape, loaded with purple flowers; the other side was lined with another shrub, also squared, that I can not identify. Both were always in bloom and swarming with bees and winged creatures.
A large field next to the back porch was filled with broken-color four o’clocks. I loved to collect the seeds, but it never occurred to me to sow them!
Bush roses, lilies, daisies, phlox filled the areas around the unpainted clapboard house creating a living beauty I have never forgotten. Someday I would have just such a yard, I dreamed.
I often wonder about her potting soil
It had to be dirt collected from the ground, maybe mixed with chicken manure, and perhaps eggshells which were a byproduct of Gran’pa Nick’s commercial hatchery.
What ever it was it produced luxuriously green potted plants.
The dahlia’s grew in black soil enriched with that magic concoction. Everything just seemed to grow. No evidence of special treatment, but boy! What plants.