Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Grandmother’s Garden…

Good morning, dear friends!


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…

garden 8

(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…

garden 2

…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—

garden 10

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

garden 11

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--

garden 12

--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. 

garden 6

“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…


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!


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!


See you soon with something new…



  1. Hi Julie,
    I think it's great that you honor your heritage like this. Your ancestors would be no doubt, very proud of you! Thanks for sharing and it's now documented for your daughters too, via this journal.

  2. Oh Julie your blogspots are always so fun to read. I'm so envious of all the photos you have of your families past. That is so cool!
    Thank you so much for playing along with the color challenge.. I love your card AND the thought behind it!

  3. I so enjoy reading your blog,
    What a gardener she must have been to be able to keep things alive in the Arizona sunshine. Imagine having to remove stains with sour orange juice and salt? We have it so easy with our modern technology!
    A beautiful card in honor of Sarah!

  4. What a wonderful legacy, what a treasure to have those written words - marvellous. Beautiful card too Julie. Your blog is always SO interesting, I love it. My father was a great observer and journal keeper too and he wrote down memories of tales told by his mother and father about their forbears, but how interesting for you to have it directly from Sarah herself. Brilliant. Hope you and yours are well. Love Anne X

  5. What an amazing story, Julie. It is hard to imagine such a lush garden in Arizona. She definitely had the touch, it seems. What a wonderful legacy she has passed on to you.


  6. Hi Julie, I so love your posts about your family... I can tell you treasure each precious memory as much as I do mine of my family... love your actual photos,priceless! How wonderful that you wrote down each and every word your dear grandmother talked with you about... thanks for sharing such precious memories... xoxo Julie Marie

  7. What a beautiful history your grandmother's has given you. This is really a treasure and I so wish I had anything at all in writing of my grandma's lives. My grandmother was born in 1852 in St. Helena CA and to read about her life would really be a special. She died before I was born so I never met her but I have photos and an oak dresser of hers.

  8. Wow I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!
    Have a nice day!!
    Kisses :)

  9. Your card is lovely Julie and I just love reading about your family should write a book!!

  10. I loved hearing about Sarah and her life...12 children! Can you even imagine it? And living such a wonderful life...awesome! :D

  11. Your stories about your family are simply the them!! What perfect inspiration it gave you for your beautiful card. You never disappoint with your creativity!! :-)

  12. I LOVE the stories!! What a wonderful read. It just enhances your gorgeous cards!

  13. Julie I love the stories..more..more..more please!! I would give anything to read or know the history of my relatives!!!
    Wow she really grew things that normally would not grow out there..awesome!! Her place still isn't there? I bet some of the plants

    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

  14. Julie, I loved your card as always, but even more I loved reading these writings and memories of your female ancestors. (Noticing another new look here as well!) I love to hear about your family and their history. Today's entry reminded me of the stories my mother tells of her grandfather's farm up in Inglesville on the South Mountain of Nova Scotia. I believe that being able to grow up on a farm is a special blessing, a VERY special blessing. Love you loads my sweet friend from afar! Sleep tight and happy tommorrow! xxoo

  15. Oh, Julie...where do I begin? Your words are like ribbons tied together into rich, truth-filled bows. Your stories take me to a past that I don't own but so long to learn about. And your pictures help those who have lived in times past come alive in our is truly astounding....and I love your art--it is precious and meaningful...and you know what? I can truly see that you enjoyed making it! It is beautiful.

    I just got a new sewing machine yesterday and was wondering if I could put a card through it to sew I'll be brave enough to try Your results are gorgeous.

  16. What a great story (How did she find the time to do everything?), and your card is lovely. xx

  17. a wonderful post Julie and a joy to read.

    And I love how you always evoke memories for me like the nasturtiums. My Dad used to grow them in a huge cut down barrel and they were always a riot of reds and oranges.

    So much of what he did (he farmed) and grew provide my crafting inspiration now. So happy memories.

    B x

  18. Wow what a blessing to have all those events/memories of your ggggrandma...she does sound amazing. Thank you for sharing her with us. Hugs for a great day. xoxox

  19. Hi Julie! How wonderful that you got to write your grandmother's words. I wish I could ask my grandmother questions again. Your card is just beautiful. Have a wonderful day, my friend. Twyla

  20. "Hi Julie", This is the MOST BEAUTIFUL Story!!! I LOVE IT!!! Our Grandmothers are SO SPECIAL... I just adored my time with mine and the memories created to cherish forever... And it's so nice to write about it to preserve it for everyone to enjoy... Thank you so much for sharing Your Story and memories!
    I'm your newest follower, I would LOVE to have you as my follower too...
    Hugs, Donna

  21. What a beautiful post Julie! I love hearing stories of the past! What a lovely family tree you have!


  22. whauw, what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing your family past.
    (and thank you for visiting me, it's great to visit your blog)

  23. Julie, don't waste your gift, write a book, please:) And if one day you do it, let me know because I would like to be the first one to read it:) I am just learning English and I find your writing beautifully smooth:)
    I read this post holding my breath.
    The card is also beautiful:) I like the image, colours and stitches:)
    Have a nice day, Julie:)

  24. Julie, your post is lovely. I enjoyed hearing about your family from the past.
    Your card is beautiful with all the layers and the fine summer colors.

  25. Julie, you write some of the most interesting posts! Thanks for sharing this wonderful part of your life! Your card is gorgeous!

  26. WOW - Julie - that was a beautiful post. You sound so incredibly thoughtful and dedicated - your family must be so proud - I agree - write a book! xx ps. The card is brilliant too!

  27. Dear Julie,
    Thank you for another beautiful post about your female ancestors. I love that you sat down with your grandmother and wrote down her precious memories before she died. There are no better treasures!

    We are at my brother's house in Kansas City and will be heading down to his basement tomorrow to go through boxes of letters and pictures dating back to the Cilvil War on my grandfather's side. There is a huge box of courtship letters from a descendent who was serving in the Civil War. I am hoping to take them home and organizing them and perhaps make some gift of them for my brothers.

    I love the card and love that you honor your family in this way!


  28. I just love reading about your family and of my favorite things to research and create art with! Beautiful post! I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

  29. Fab post - lovley family history and a lovely card as well! Have a great weekend!

  30. Hi Julie, another beautiful post filled with wonderful family thoughts and history. Amazing! I wonder if temperatures were different at that time which is why all these lovely flowers and plants were able to bloom and grow. As we see today, weather patterns are constantly changing. When my husband was growing up in Kuwait, he said it was never ever as hot as it is now and they actually had winters. Last year we never needed our radiators for heat and barely were able to wear sweaters. I just love that you have these writings from your foremothers. :) Best wishes to you for a wonderful weekend. Tammy

    PS I love, love, love your new background. The colors and design is glorious! :)

  31. Oh Julie, I don't know how I missed this post 2 days ago. What a wonderful story...I'm now waiting for the book to be published all about the life and times of Sarah Indiaetta Young Vance. :)
    I'm serious, you know! You have the most lovely writing style, and so much family history material to share. I get so excited when you do these posts. I know how you feel when you say that you can "relate to her." Isn't it wonderful when we have that special bond with an ancestor whom we have never met. That situation always makes me wonder if it were posssible that we did actually know them in a previous life, in a different relationship. Just something I often think about...without sounding too much "out there!" :)
    I'm also so intrigued about the Indianetta part of your Sarah's name. Such a pretty sounding name, and unusual to me. Do you know the origin of that, or the story behind the choice of that particular name? Just wondering ;)

  32. Lovely post, Julie. The old photographs are the sweetest!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend, hope you will have lots of sunshine. xxooxx

  33. Love your crazy-quilted card Julie and your story too!