• Felicia

How Does My Garden Grow? I Get By With A Little Help From Family And Friends.

The best plants are hand-me-downs you're gifted from family and friends. Along with those, there are the heirlooms you acquire in unusual ways that keep your family legacy going.

As I always say, gifting is something we do all the time, sometimes without knowing we do. My garden is a gift of plants that greet me every day bringing a smile to my face with their own stories and memories. Where they came from; a backyard, front yard, deck, roadside or even a place you never imagined till you arrived there.

It all began 22 years ago, when we moved into our third home, where I still live today. At the time I was still a freshman studying gardening 101. I moved onto a large piece of property with a very large open green canvas, just waiting for me to add other shades of green and more color to it, With the vision I had for my backyard, I knew I had to start small to build the garden landscapes I wanted.

Shortly after moving in my dad, drove in from Brooklyn, NY with buckets filled with tiger lilies from his front yard. I remember growing up waiting to see their beautiful orange colored flowers stand tall and proud next to our purple lilac bush. I wish I had taken a photo of all the buckets with these gem of flowers. I was so happy because I knew tiger lilies don’t need much tender loving and care: an easy garden start. So off I went planting them around my new deck and in the side garden near my driveway. There they would be the official backyard hosts waiting to greet all who entered my backyard. Each year I would add annuals for extra color and eventually another perennial. It's been so many years and for a few years they didn’t do well, but now they are resurging with full bloom.

Following the tiger lilies came one of the coolest plants I have, that guarantee a "wow" when people see them. This time I would be gifted from a friend. It was during one of my visits to see my bestie and her family in Delaware. Her husband had a beautiful back wall of Hostas in every size you can imagine. That day buckets in tow, I was gifted baby Hostas that were transplanted in the curved area near my backyard entrance across from the tiger lily garden. They've been the other hosts greeting company each summer. The elephant leaf size of my big favs are absolutely wonderful to admire.

Some of my Hostas have been split and planted in buckets only on that side of my yard since the sun overwhelms the entire rest of the yard all day. As years went on I've acquired more Hostas, buying them at my favorite supermarket… Shoprite. Click here to learn more about my flower finds at Shoprite.

As my garden and deck flowers continue to have new plants and flowers join them, a new addition came from a very different gifting journey. Okay, so here is how it happened. In 2019 my youngest son (21 at the time) took a ride with my sis and me to visit our parents, YiaYia and Popouli (grandparents in greek) and extended family at the cemetery. I'm not sure if you do this, but it's always been... when you visit your deceased family, you clean around their tombstones. You never leave the cemetery until every area is clean and neat. When we went to see YiaYia and Popouli we were greeted by the plant we call the "Aunt Anna's". since we never knew the true name of the plant species and Aunt Anna gifted them from her yard to everyone in the family. They had completely covered Yia Yia and Populi's tombstone. So out came our tools we have readily available and started digging some out to make the area look neater. I turned to my sis, and said "these would beautiful in my backyard". You should have seen my son’s face. Then his comment followed “Mom, you know you're stealing from the cemetery" and my answer was “ I’m taking some flowers from my family and I’m going to grow them in the backyard, besides Grandpa Louie planted these so we're keeping them in the family. Once again his facial expression popped out. Since then, the "Aunt Anna's" have joined my tiger lilies and also look great in pots on my deck. Their green leaves lead into blooming yellow flowers mid summer. They’re hardy and part of my family's legacy. Can you imagine the stories they could share?

This year joining our family and friend garden, we have a fig tree and some succulents that were gifted from my mother in law.

I find so much delight in seeing my garden grow and being surrounded by plants that once belonged to important people in my life. Each time I pass each of them a memory is sparked, a smile comes across my face and it's usually the same one every time, reinforcing how happy they make me.

As I look to the future it’s my turn to gift my plants. This time to my daughter and son-in law who, after backyard renovations this year, start their backyard garden next year. She always says “Mom if you think they’ll grow, I'm not one for gardening, so sure go ahead do your thing”. With all the shade in her yard I look forward to seeing how beautiful her canvas will look once joined by some magnificent colors and love. My prediction is that she’ll come to love the beauty of these low maintenance family heirlooms, or if I may again "hand-me-downs". And, knowing my daughter she'll share of how her garden started.

I would love to hear of how your garden started and who gifted you with beautiful "hand-me-downs". Send me your photos Fluca(at)lifestlyegiftguide.com