Gardening Seems Good Near Mother’s Day


Red Admiral in our yard, visiting the day Audrey finished planting her petunias.

I married a great mom. I know that’s hardly an unbiased opinion, but a snapshot of our six kids suggests someone did something right.

Nina just graduated from Creighton University and has a job as a social worker. Ben is doing well at Iowa State. And all of the others of our children are college graduates. Jon works for Microsoft now, but in less than a month is off to Paraguay with his wife Nalena as members of the Peace Corps. The three daughters who are married are all, currently, staying at home to care for young kids—an interesting development, in this day and age, for such a group of liberated, educated women, but as my daughter Katy recently blogged, there is no such thing as “just” a housewife with young kids.

All of us have bumps in the road of life, and none of my kids lives a perfectly happy, idyllic existence. But, who does? Anyway, both Audrey and I get along pretty well most of the time with all of our kids, and that’s saying something.

Parenting and gardening aren’t the same. You can grow lush plants and be a cad. Similarly, you can have a brown thumb, but be wonderful with your own offspring. Still, it’s possible to be a decent parent and good gardener too, and I do see some parallels between caring for plants and the care you give to other growing things that you love.

Audrey and I have recently completed round one of our spring gardening. Grass seed has been sown and has sprouted, broken trellises in the front garden have been replaced and four new clematis plants have taken the place of morning glories. One rose bush died last year and has been replaced. Five new little trees have edged their way into our crowded forest of a back yard.  Petunias peek from planters on our rear deck and from pots on the fence, courtesy of Audrey.

Garden stuff

About a week ago–back from garden shopping trip to Menard’s. Rose and four clematis, along with five tiny Arbor Day trees, were planted by me, several flats of geraniums and petunias were given spots by Audrey. She did much more planting than I did.

Somehow, all this planting seems motherly. Audrey referenced her mom when she asked me about my methods for tree planting—she noted that her mom always filled a hole with water for tree planting. I do that, too, with larger trees, but didn’t bother with these tiny Arbor Day Foundation twigs.

My mom loved roses, so planting a rose bush honors her. Planting the trees would be something my dad would do, but the tree mania is primarily something that Audrey and I share, so I would say it’s mostly for her this Mother’s Day.

For Mother’s Day, we bought a swing, and need to assemble the stand. It will sit out in our back yard and probably be used. We enjoyed our treeish little corner of the world, and will soak in some of the warm spring glory on this Mother’s Day in our new seat.

On this lush Iowa Mother’s Day, may some growing thing remind you of how it wasn’t just the universe, but also a particular woman, who gave you life. May you recall her fondly, even if your relationship wasn’t or isn’t perfect. And to all the moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day.

And for Audrey, happy Mother’s Day, dear. The tomatoes and peppers and herbs and petunias all look up to you, but they can’t compete in your heart with Amanda, Jonathan, Theresa, Katy, Deanna and Benjamin. The garden of our life seems to be yielding rich fruit, and for that, you and I both can be grateful.


Iris, in bloom, in my garden, almost a Mother’s Day miracle.

Audrey and Amelia

Audrey with her granddaughter Amelia. Happy Mother’s Day to both Katy and Audrey!


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6 responses to “Gardening Seems Good Near Mother’s Day

  1. Happy Mother’s Day to Audrey, Katy, Amanda and Theresa!

  2. Beautiful parallels here. My kind of stuff. You hit a nerve when you talked about filling the new tree’s planting hole with water first. My dad always did that, too. Planting trees was his hobby and he pampered his new babies like no on else in our small NW Iowa town.

    The flipside of this wonderful picture? When we sold the house after my folks died–the new owners cut down every single sunburst locust and I could have rung their necks. So could the rest of the town. People were outraged.

    Some people will never get it. 😦

    • crgardenjoe

      Too true. I even have a member of the family who won’t plant trees in a yard to avoid raking–a pathetic excuse to avoid 4-hours of work a year that merely put you outside in fall weather doing things that people pay big gym memberships to do, anyway. I’m riding RAGBRAI this year, which ends in Clinton, where my father planted a lot of trees around our house on 7th Avenue South. Part of me wants to peddle by to see what those trees look like 50 yeas later, but part of me thinks probably few, if any, of them are there, and that would be sad.

  3. So true I think gardening and planting trees and flowers in ones honor is a great way to show your love. And I must agree your family seems truly blessed. Way to go to the Moms in your family.

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