From a young child my poppa has always been my gardening inspiration. My grandparents always had the most incredible gardens. He always had a small veggie patch, but it was the beautiful flower gardens that really blew everyone away. People off the street would stop to comment. Poppa was always proud as punch; though also very humble. He could always be found pottering around in his large gardens or raking up leaves. He hated the leaves - still does! haha
At 33 years old I'm extremely lucky to still have both my poppa and nana on that side of our family. He's now 88 years old. Recently they sold their family home and moved into a retirement village. The gardeners are meant to do their gardens, but poppa wasn't having a bar of that and has convinced the gardener that he's got this one. He often tells me stories with a big smile on his face of various single ladies down his street asking if he'll also tend to their gardens. There's no doubt his gardens are immaculate.
My house is only a two minute drive from their retirement village so while I've been at work a little fairy has been working away at filling up my raised vegetable gardens. I've told Poppa plenty of times that he doesn't need to come down to help in my garden. His response is always a simple one - there isn't much for me to do up in that retirement village.
Gardening is his passion so we've come to a bit of an agreement. I've told him that he's more than welcome to potter around in my garden whenever he wants on the condition that he takes it easy. I do worry about him, but Nana has assured me that the exercise is actually a good thing for him.
In return, I've told him to take what he wants from the garden as it's ready. He won't, but I'll ensure I pay it forward come summer time with lots of fresh produce. I've always gifted them a lot from my gardens in the past. A few years back when I won the prize for the biggest fail in the garden (tomatoes and pysllids - wasn't my year at all) I shared a lot of the prize pack with my grandparents. I was forever giving him my extra seedlings as well. In our family we're pretty good at helping others, but aren't so good at accepting help or offers in return.
They've always provided me with an endless supply of citrus fruit so now that they don't have large fruit trees I'm looking forward to being able to return that favor once my plum tree is loaded with beautiful plums or feijoa season arrives. Nana was already eyeing up the tree yesterday for plum jam.
My hope is that once my garden is established it provides Poppa with a bit of a hobby away from the retirement village and a home away from home. This year is the first year my son (age 5) has had his very own garden. Seeing his great granddad finish filling up his raised garden bed was a pretty special moment for me. Meanwhile, Luke played in the sunshine drawing pictures with his chalk all over the concrete. It's the little moments that I treasure the most.
Because I've had very little in my garden the only way I've managed to pay it forward so far is with my spring flowers. For those of you who don't know I'm a primary school teacher. I teach year 2 children (6-7 year olds). One little girl in my class has had a particularly rough time lately. She lost her own grandad, which wasn't expected so I picked her a big bunch of flowers. The bunch was a mix of daffodils, tulips, and lavender. Seeing her carry her big mason jar of flowers out of the classroom as the end of the day brightened my day.
I think if I ever manage to pay it forward half as much as my grandparents do I'll be doing alright. The photo is of Luke (5 years old) and his great grandad (88 years old) - gardens complete and ready to plant out.