How Did You First Get Interested in Gardening?

Posted By Thomas on Sep 14, 2009 | 4 comments

Stephanie as a seedling

The September 3rd edition of the Wayside Gardens Gazette included a "Getting to Know You" survey. The very first question was a simple one, but it unleashed a lovely flood of fond memories and great gardening stories. The question: How did you first get interested in gardening? Many of the responses focused on family–mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, and aunts who made sure that the little ones got involved in gardening early on. Your friends at Wayside Gardens hope you'll enjoy these stories about how your fellow gardeners became gardeners.

My mum was a great gardening and a Wayside shopper. She had saved a Wayside catalogue from 1959, which was the year she and my Dad bought a house, and she landscaped it herself with plants from Wayside. I looked through that catalogue for years, and when we finally bought a house, I was so pleased to find that Wayside was still there, ready to help me with my gardens.

I was 4 years old, and my Mom took me to a public rose garden. I have loved roses ever since, and started a garden when I was 6 years old. I am now 31.

I helped my father plant the garden when I was 3 years old–many years ago! I grew up in rural Southwestern Michigan, a rich agricultural area. We always had a garden, and had fruit and vegetable growers all around us.

As a kid, I followed my Daddy around in his vegetable gardens. I guess gardening is in the genes.

Both my mother and my father had the proverbial "green thumb." Mom could grow anything indoors, and Dad did our garden (vegetable). Until I was seven years old, we worked in the garden and enjoyed the produce. Dad always told me that a garden is a sacred trust. I feel that way still!

I started following my Dad around his garden when I was old enough to walk, and this took off from there. I can't remember a time when flowers didn't stop me in my tracks.

I lived in a big city, but my grandmother had a small garden. As a child, I loved to walk the little path through the garden and spent a lot of time playing there. I was delighted when the peonies bloomed in the spring, and attempted to plant some flowers and vegetables of my own. Since that time, I have always had some kind of garden, and keep a lot of houseplants. 

My great-grandmother and both of my grandmothers were passionate about their gardens. Great-grandma tended a vegetable garden and provided flowers for mass, during the spring and summer, well into her early nineties.

My grandmother gardened, and when I was little, I had my own flower boxes and little garden by my playhouse.

I remember when I was a child, my Gramma and Papa had a vegetable garden in their back yard. They were Swedish, so to go gardening, you put on your wooden shoes. I had my own pair at their house. They used to be my Dad's when he was a child. I was gardening with Gramma one time and pulled up a small carrot. She told me it wasn't ready, so I pushed it back in the ground, so it could continue to grow.

I grew up around gardeners. My grandfathers both were avid gardeners, as were all my uncles. When I'd go visit them, every visit would start with a walk through their gardens and around their yards. I never knew most people visited inside until I was in my teens. When I first started going out with other people, I was stunned to see them ignore the yard and go right into the house. I used to wonder what was wrong with their yards and gardens that they were trying to hide.

My grandfather couldn't have a large garden in his little back yard at his home in Philadelphia, so he would come up to our house in the suburbs and plant a big garden in our back yard. Thus I became one of his right-hand granddaughters, and ultimately, the head gardener at my own home.

Whole Family
My grandmother was an avid gardener. I remember how beautiful her yard was and how much she enjoyed sharing her newest additions to her garden. My mother inherited the love of gardening, too, and has continued the tradition of sharing the joy of all things green. All 5 of her daughters are now also gardening gurus.

My grandmother was a gardener, my mother and all my aunts are gardeners, so it's in my DNA!

From the time I was a newborn (1950), my Granddaddy Sutherand had awesome flower gardens (always featuring the newest begonias), an asparagus patch, raspberry patch, and cherry tree. Grandma Hays kept vegetable gardens outlined by iris. Mother always had a small veggie garden, along with zinnias and marigolds. It never occurred to me that people didn't have gardens or wouldn't love gardening!


  1. I found out I loved working in the yard after my wife died and I started cutting down the trees that had overgrown the fence line. There were about 25 of them. I used a bowsaw and a ax on most of it for the exercise. I then decided to redo the yard and changed out the front hedges, with encore azaleas., and planted bamboo between my neighboors yard for privacy screening. I do have a chainsaw now though.

  2. School. I live in Los Angeles. Altough my mother is and always has been an avid gardner, her love is flowers. My elementary school had a vegitable gardening program tied to the science curriculum. That is where I caught the bug.

  3. My aunt, she had a garden and would show me a vegetable (like a tomatoe or such) and say go find that in the garden then pick two of them. Carrots are so hard to find in the garden, since they like to hide in the dirt, she would say.

  4. My earliest memories of my Dad involve him pouring over the Wayside Garden (Mentor Ohio) catalogue in winter….planning his true English garden changes and additions for the spring. I still have his 1964 edition that I use as inspiration. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

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