My mom is quite talented at a lot of things. When guests come over she rolls out the red carpet with the some of the most delicious meals. Even if you’ve dropped by the house mid-day, she’ll serve you a delicious cheese and fruit platter and pour you a glass of Chardonnay. Yea, she’s that kind of hostess.
But don’t be surprised if you knock on the door and she doesn’t answer. She’s most likely outside in her custom built garden house doing what she does best…gardening. Make no mistake. This is no She Shed. She refuses to let people label it as such. This is a real-deal garden house where she spends time cultivating her craft – making her gardens flourish. Whether she is sitting in the screened in porch chair reading about rose bushes or potting plants in the stainless steel sink, her green thumb is at work.
It seems only fair that my step-dad, who has his own woodworking shop, would build a garden house for her, right? The 8’x12′ house (not including the 5’x12′ screened in porch) includes the same amenities that any home would have including running water and electricity. During the winter it houses plants she wants to keep alive from the outdoor elements and during the summer the sun beams in on oversized house plants.
Mom’s garden house is an extension of her own home. The interior’s neutral colors, off-set by the bright white counter tops and trimmed windows, includes various green hues from decorative additions and dark black metal pieces. Having collected many of the sitabouts over time, she decorates in a style more sophisticated than rustic farmhouse but less stuffy than classic traditional. She has an eclectic sense of design style that is uniquely her own.
When not busy nurturing plants, she uses the garden house as a quiet refuge to read or just watch her many bird feeders in the yard over a glass of wine. When friends visit on occasion, like her Bunco gal pals, it serves as a getaway space to venture to between games for a quick tour. You can hear the women audibly dote over each detail of the garden house. They want one too. Who wouldn’t?
Mom’s appreciation of nature goes back as far as I can remember.
“It (gardening) feeds my soul in a way nothing else does. I’m connected to plants in new says every year,” she said recently.
My childhood was spent watching her in the yard with her hands in the dirt on weekends. After coming home from school we would drag around the hose to water thick, layered flower beds of all colors and varieties. Sunflowers towered over our heads and wildflowers nestled at our feet. She would tell me about butterflies that she adored and the grasshoppers that broke her heart.
Today, she still sees beauty in the colors of delicate flowers and enjoys the harvest of a vegetable or herb garden. Her accepted challenge each year is to learn about the needs of plant placement in her landscape while always attempting to attract birds, bees, and insects.
Gardening is not easy. She admits that the challenge is to find the balance between what she wants to plant and what nature will allow. Admittedly, she says there are more failures to learn every season and enough small successes to keep her happy.
I love spring and wish it lasted longer, she says.
It’s true. She smiles the most in the spring (with college basketball season in a close second place). When the weather begins to warm up and the days spring forward, she is more outdoors than she is indoors. I often call her to wish her a “Happy Spring” only for it to go to voicemail because she’s outside playing in the yard.
While I love the outdoors, I’m not a natural gardener. I struggle to keep plants alive. I either over or under water them. Completely forget about them. I never installed the proper drip system. Can a person’s “green thumb” be learned? Maybe I just wrote it off as “mom’s hobby.” I should have really paid more attention when helping her in the yard as a teen. Just last week I called her seeking advice about our sad rose bushes. Before I knew it, I was at her house on my hands and knees pruning her rose bushes while she used wood glue on the stem ends to prevent bores for invading them again. Glue? Who knew!
I’m “foodie” thanks to my mom’s love of cooking. In fact, many of her garden harvests end up in her recipes. Ripe tomatoes are the star ingredient in her homemade gazpacho, a cool treat during a blazing hot summer day. Fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme find their way into many of her savory recipes. This year she has decided to trade her tomato plants for perennials because it’s just less to have to worry about and each year perennials come back stronger when given the space to spread out.
I’ve have so much to learn from her wisdom about nature, about plants and birds. As I mentioned before, I’m at best a wannabe gardener. In fact, I’ve killed so many house plants over the years that if there is every going to be any hope for me, I’m going to have to spend more time with mom in the garden house. If you’re more like me, you’ll appreciate a post she helped me write last summer 10 Hard to Kill Houseplants You Can Leave While on Vacation.
But not every day can be spent gardening. Sometimes the body needs a day of rest between the hours spent digging in unforgiving soil and pulling weeds away from flowers. On these days, she takes time to let her body relax but we all know she is still thinking about her next outdoor project.
What can we learn from mom’s garden house? Every woman, every person, needs a space to call their own. Where they can go to escape the chaos of the day and appreciate some quiet time or just enjoy their hobby.
What is it that brings you peace? What do you enjoy learning about most? Tell me in the comments section how you pursue your hobby or where you like to spend quiet time.
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