Friday, March 27, 2009

Ruby's Garden

My grandmother could grow anything.

When she’d visit family or friends, she’d walk through their yards and, like most women of her day, pinch off shoots or branches to take home to root. She was incapable of walking past a flower gone to seed without dislodging the tiny prizes and catching them mid-fall.

On occasions when permission wasn’t easily attainable, whether a deserted homestead or an unattended garden, she took matters into both capable hands.

In our hurry-up world, where potted plants are so readily available, the idea of starting from scratch seems archaic.

But in my grandmother’s Arkansas world, a woman who couldn’t drive and who couldn’t afford a nursery, even if one was available, had to be resourceful.

And she certainly was. Her beautiful garden was a tribute to women like her who might not have much, but even on the darkest days had brightly-colored blooms in their yard.

When my grandmother died in 1968, two people sent gloxinias to her funeral. The lovely gesture of respect and affection was a bittersweet moment for those of us who knew how long she had coveted one of the exotic plants.

Today, The Enterprise debuts “Dig it!” a gardening blog for those who cannot imagine life without flora (and fauna), from herbs to flowers to vegetables. This is not an expert answering complicated botanical questions, although I’ll certainly do my best to find answers for you.

This is one person passionate about gardening sharing with others of like mind.

If you already garden - or want to start, if you love thumbing through gardening magazines or seed catalogs, if you have a gazebo or front porch or simply love being outdoors, this is the spot for you.

So take off that wide-brimmed hat, put down the trowel and join me in lifting a glass of iced tea to Ruby Lee Johnson Nowlin, the woman who taught me to love digging in the dirt. As she would have said, pull up a chair and sit a spell. And remember, the pleasure of shared conversation requires your participation. We'd love it if you'd join in.


  1. My grandmother loved gardening too. She always had a maid so she could work out in the yard. But I think my love of gardening came from my Dad. He always had a big vegetable garden in our back yard and we helped him. When he had a garden there were still horned toads that would be in the garden that we would play with. I wonder where all those horned toads went?

  2. I often wonder about those horny toads myself. Our Depression-era grandparents made wine from their own grapes, preserved figs and blackberries, and of course had a vegetable garden, which mom said was the only way they could afford fresh produce then. My dad always had a garden. When we moved to Austin in the 80s, we used our Amelia flatland knowledge to put in at the UT community gardens. Well, the first flood destroyed us in a flash and we learned a lot from our Asian neighbors who raised their rows. Life got in the way of living and for the first time in about 10 years we have a vegetable garden this year, inspired by the election, coupled with the economy. Gardening is the cheapest hobby for the greatest return I know of. Good luck on your blog.