I am a level three master gardener who did not get started gardening until later in life. Growing up we did not have much of a garden and when we did it was rhubarb and a couple of vegetable plants, although we did do a lot of canning. It was my trips to Minnesota each summer to visit my grandparents where I was exposed to the world of growing. My grandfather grew a beautiful vegetable garden, trees that he grafted, the best compost set up and a long row of fragrant peonies that happens to be my favorite flower. After my grandfather’s passing I was honored to be given his garden books, which contained some of his notes on gardening and grafting.
As a young adult I briefly lived on a scallop farm in Hokkaido, Japan. This northern island is rich with agriculture and is best known for milk cows, rice paddies and local gardens. I learned a lot about the way they preserved food in open crocks filled with brine, drying fish and kelp on large wooden pole racks set out in the sun for it to do its job and how to farm scallops from the ocean. I was asked to get some seeds for my hostess. Regular eggplant and giant pumpkin seeds were requested. I assume that there was some local competition going on amongst the gardeners as in the fall there would be large pumpkins set out on to the main highway at the entrance to each gardener’s driveway for show and tell.
In my early thirties I finally began to grow a garden. I remember when I harvested and ate my first green bean I was hooked. Since then my gardening has evolved and I find myself wanting to grow a garden of only flowers that I can cut guilt free and fill my house with and leave my flower beds full of color. Each year on vacation I try to fit in a trip to a botanical garden. Over the years I have collected ideas that have inspired me to create a Zen themed garden in my backyard. Last year I planned a special trip to Seattle to pick up a few outdoor statues to start off my Zen garden. I feel so lucky to have had all of those previous experiences growing up. It has helped me to appreciate and enjoy gardening and all of the possibilities it offers. Since I became a Master Gardener I have learned a lot and have met some really great gardeners. One of my favorite things about gardening is learning from others and the way it brings communities together.
Submitted by Donna Canino