Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Grandmother’s Garden…

Good morning, dear friends!

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What a beautiful day to begin September!  The sun is shining, a cool breeze blowing, the flowers--less bright and vivid now--are nodding their heavy heads outside my window…

Which brings to mind a certain garden I’ve been reading about this week in my grandmother’s & great-grandmother’s writings…

Sarah I. V. Young

Sarah Indiaetta Young Vance, my great-great-grandmother, was born on a plantation in Virginia during the Civil War…more stories for another day…

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(This was not her home, but a photo I found that, to me, feels like what she described…) 

As a teenager, she left Virginia and headed west with her family, eventually settling in old Mesa, Arizona.  There are so many stories I have to tell you about this amazing woman as time goes on…I love her dearly…mostly because I feel I know her well.  She left a beautifully written history of her life in her own words.  I cherish it.  She is why my middle daughter Sarah is…Sarah.

But, today, the words I’ll draw from are from her daughter, Estella and her granddaughter—my grandmother—Velda... about her garden.

As I mentioned in my last post, Sarah was a very busy mother of 12 children…they farmed for a living.  She was also an incredibly skilled and busy midwife.  No matter how hectic her life was, however, she loved to garden…

garden 5 (This and the following garden photographs were found online…)

I imagine it was hard to keep a garden flourishing in the heat of the Arizona sun, but flourish it did, year after year….here’s a description from her daughter Estella, thinking back to her childhood on their family farm, about 1900…

On the side of the house was a beautiful old-fashioned garden, with stocks, baby’s breath, bachelor buttons, pinks, carnations, pansies, violets, hollyhocks…

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…black-eyed Susans, sweet peas, daisies…larkspur, poppies…well just name it, it was there in colorful profusion in Mother’s garden…

“Growing from the ground to the eaves at each porch post were beautiful climbers—

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--roses across the front and down the right side of the porch…

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Fig trees, large spreading ones that grew luscious figs, both black and white, were planted along the ditch bank…Long pomegranate hedges that had big pink & white fruit—we loved to reach up into the dense upper branches for the especially good fruit--

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--true, our dresses would be stained, also fingers and teeth, but little difference did it make to us children. 

hpqscan0001_edited-1 (Sarah, John and their family of then 10 children about 1900…2 more would be added soon! My great-grandmother, Estella, is on the far right, next to her father.)

Yes, Mother would scold and caution us to eat and peel the fruit carefully, so she would have the minimum of trouble trying to take the stain out with sour orange juice and salt---and much boiling.”

Her description goes on in some detail, but for now we’ll switch over to her daughter, Velda’s child’s eye memories of her grandmother Sarah’s garden:

“She (Sarah) always had a fresh garden—vegetables and flowers of all kinds, and trees that were unusual for the area, such as quince…She also grew oranges, lemons and tangerines. 

“She always had her own milk, butter and cheese.  We could help her churn the butter…she always had homemade bread. 

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“She had us go into the garden and pick nasturtiums.  We’d wash them—leaves, stems and flowers—and we’d put the leaves on homemade bread with her homemade butter.  I don’t think I ever went to Grandma’s without doing that.”

Velda in garden_edited-1 (Velda in a garden, about 3 years old…1918)

I got this information from my grandmother Velda just a few years before she died, when we sat down one day to talk about her childhood—I wrote down every precious word.

I had nasturtiums growing in my garden at that time—still do—and told my daughters about this. (They were quite young then…)  They wanted to try it, so we did (without the homemade butter and bread, sadly!)  They loved it, and dubbed them “Ancestor Sandwiches”—they still love talking about them!

In thinking about my great-great-grandmother Sarah this week, I made this little garden card in her honor…a beautiful, busy, turn-of-the-century gardener…surrounded by blue skies, a riot of roses, and heavy-headed hollyhocks…

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The image is from Crafty Secrets’ “Garden” Creative Scraps…I decided to do some machine sewing on this one…then decided to “crazy quilt” it, I was having so much fun!

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Just some lace, ribbon, vintage mother-of-pearl buttons, Dazzling Diamonds & platinum Stickles for a little gilding around the image, and that’s about it!

I also did this card for a color challenge hosted by sweet Vicki Chrisman just for fun!   Thanks, Vicki!

Well, that’s about it for me today…my posts seem to be getting longer lately…hope that’s okay! Sometimes there’s just things that need to be said, I guess.

So, from Estella, Velda, Sarah…

Sarah Indiaetta_edited-1 (Sarah later in life…she passed away in 1940.)

and me…I hope you have a beautiful day.  Enjoy the sunshine while it’s here…fall is coming!  Go and create something beautiful—whether it’s in your garden, in your kitchen, or anywhere the muse strikes you!

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See you soon with something new…

Julie