I began my day this morning the same way that I have begun it for the past few weeks. This morning, as soon as I walked out the back door, I almost sprinted to my rose arbor that my Super Sweet 100 Cherry Plant commandeered for itself early during the summer. This arbor is only a few steps away from my back door, and as soon as I walked outside, I knew that I had tomatoes ready to pick, and I couldn’t wait to pick them and to eat them, right off the vine.
Perfect little tomatoes. the fruit of the Super Sweet 100 is truly Super Sweet, and it is also Super Tender, and it is Super Easy to Grow.
One single plant has climbed to the top of my 8′ arbor, and beyond that, it has grown at least 2′ more. I saw a few tomatoes that were growing immediately beneath the thicket of the arbor’s arch today, and as I moved into place to pick them, an old, familiar feeling washed over me. Once again, I was a child, standing beneath my grandmother’s massive morning glory vine, and once again, I was sheltering in place. The vines of my tomato plant this morning had reminded me of the times of my childhood when the crystal blue morning glories had fully consumed my grandmother’s arbor and had created a glorious sight. But more than the appearance of my grandmother’s morning glory vines, I loved the way that they made me feel when I was a tiny girl. Today, when I was standing beneath the ever-reaching, ever-entangling vines of my cherry tomato plant, I felt that once more, I was being held and cradled and protected from the world beyond my sheltered, little spot. As I look back now, I realize that my grandmother’s morning glory arbor is a metaphor for the way that I feel about my grandmother herself.
My grandmother was an avid gardener, and my own childhood home was almost square behind her house. I went to my grandmother’s house at least once every day, and when I did that, I would pass through the alley behind her yard first. That is where she grew fields of old-fashioned hollyhocks. As soon as I reached the field of hollyhocks, I knew that I had reached the safeness that I felt in my grandmother’s yard.
Several feet and many flowers beyond the hollyhocks, I would soon arrive at the back steps of my grandmother’s house. In 2015, I captured that feeling in a short poem.
by Jacki Kellum
I’ve reached the shore
Of my grandmother’s door–
The one from the garden, inside.
Oh, sunny, sweet back room
Of my grandmother’s loom–
The place in the dirt
Of my grandmother’s skirt.
In your soft, summer lap,
Hold me tight, I will nap,
On my grandmother’s porch,
Let me hide.
©Jacki Kellum October 9, 2015
I often say that in creating my own cottage garden now, 70 years after I walked through my grandmother’s garden daily, I am trying to grow my grandmother back into my life. And on many levels, that is true.
Hollyhocks in Jacki Kellum Garden
Because of my grandmother, I grow the old, single hollyhocks that my grandmother grew.
Because of my grandmother, I grow the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories that my grandmother grew. Note: I don’t grow the insignificant Heavenly Blue Morning Glories that are readily available where seeds are sold. I grow the giant, heirloom Heavenly Blue that I order online.
Pink Brandywine Tomato Growing in Jacki Kellum Garden
Because of my grandmother, I am always in search of the perfect heirloom plants. This year, I grew the heirloom tomato Pink Brandywine.
Boneset Growing in Jacki Kellum Garden
Because of my grandmother and my rural heritage in the Southeast Missouri Bootheel, which was at time, the cotton-farming delta of the Mississippi River, I invite every flowering weed around to live in my garden, too. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a perennial plant because it had the weed Boneset growing in the same soil. Today, that same Boneset plant burst into an array of feathers.
My reasons for gardening are many and complex. But the bottom line is that my main reason for gardening is that through my garden, I’m growing my way back home.