As I was rooting around in my garden today, I was struck by just how much my gardening cup overflows. There are so many plants on my farm that have been gifted to me over the years and they each brought along their own stories.
I am ever so thankful for each and every gift and their journeys to get here. I hope that I can pass on the same to others.
Over 19 years ago, I brought home a bucket of foxgloves plants from the garden of Steve’s Aunt Osie in the Shenandoah Valley. I still remember the day she asked if I would like some of her plants, I was thrilled to bring some home. I was a budding flower farmer then and I was honored to be trusted with the plants. I planted them in my shade garden where they still reside today and continue the lifecycle of reseeding and replanting themselves each year.
Russian Red Salvia
Shortly after I was married and moved to the Ziegler homestead, I met Franz. A great gardener himself, he stopped by one day to have a look at my garden. Soon after our visit, a clump of his Russian Red Salvia showed up on my porch. It has become the favorite of our hummingbird visitors each year since!
He shared a story with me on a visit that I will never forget. Franz and his mother lived in war torn Germany during World War II. Steve’s grandparents started sending them regular care packages and letters. What came to past was Steve’s grandparents had a hand in sponsoring Franz and his Mother to come to America all those years ago. Franz ended his story with the reason he walks up Miller Road each day to our church’s cemetery, to give thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Ziegler for the precious gift they gave him so long ago.
Our garden has a vast assortment of beautiful hydrangeas, most a result of the handy work of Grandma Ziegler. During her time, our home had large trees flanking the front porch and she scattered hydrangeas at their feet. Over the years the trees came down and I relocated the hydrangeas to what we now call the hydrangea grove in the back garden. They are nestled once again at the foot of grand old trees. I credit my easy start in the flower growing business to the beautiful hydrangeas I had to sell from her bushes.
The Ground I Stand On
I am continually reminded of the work Grandpa Ziegler put into building the sweetest gift of all on this farm—the soil. His soil is the rock my farming career stands on.
I remember when Steve and I tackled one of the old buildings here on the farm to disassemble to save the wood. When I found the pile of empty plastic bags I wasn’t sure what it was–but Steve knew right away. It was some of the thousands of plastic bags saved for a second use that Grandpa Ziegler had picked up roadside full of leaves to make leaf mold to use in his garden.
I am sure Grandpa never thought about the contents of those plastic bags changing the course of my life. I am just so thankful that he simply followed his path to being a good steward of the land.
My gardening cup overflows,
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at [email protected] , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website www.shoptgw.com .
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