A long standing tradition since 1914, today we shower the women in our lives with gifts, love, and appreciation for their role in molding our lives. While the love of gardening is not the only offering I received from the senior women in my life, it is a communal passion that I hope to someday pass along to the next generation as well.
To my maternal grandmother Dorothy,
When I think of our shared love of gardening and Horticulture one word comes to mind. Classic. Perfectly pruned Lilacs, simple flowerbeds, and an impeccable lawn. It is there at your house (on Tulip Street) where I fell in love with some of my classic favorites.
An entire side yard and path packed full of yellow and purple Tall Bearded Iris, intertwined with Sedums, Veronica and Thyme. The patch of deep pink Peonies, protected by the south side of the fence. The annual bed seeded every year with Alyssum, Cosmos, Violas, and Marigolds. The Lilac shrub as big as a tree, marking the first signs of spring with an unforgettable scent. The unforgettable laughs while pinching the Geraniums and hanging baskets in the sunroom added up over the years.
Mistakenly perceived as dainty, you were the sole caregiver of these beautiful plants, and the years of heavy lifting and tender love was apparent in your unbelievable strength, and attention to detail. Before we moved you into your new home, we divided your Iris and Peony bulbs, transplanting and continuing to enjoy their beauty in our own gardens.
I look forward to seeing the sparkle in your eye when a new arrangement of fresh cut flowers or houseplant is delivered to your new home. The beautiful courtyard gardens are where we visit, discussing new buds and blooms, and the changing seasons in the gardens. I am incredibly grateful when you recognize me, and cherish these moments. I love you.
To my paternal grandmother Kay,
Thank you for the incredibly precise and descriptive stories of life on the farm in Iowa. The hard working family ethic to survive in the midst of a nationwide depression by home food production inspires me. I recognize how lucky you were to have the farm, to be involved in the growth of your dinners, and that sometimes your harvests were the only source of food for the Stewart family.
While Urban Gardening is progressing across America, backyard vegetable gardens are certainly not the norm. Somewhere between your childhood and mine the idea of growing food for your own family was not a necessity and diminished. Fast-food chains, obesity, and overindulgence prevailed. Starvation across the world is a huge obstacle and your farming stories during a depression era inspire me to spread the knowledge and passion of growing food.
The thought of biting though a giant tomato grown in rich brown Iowa soil stays with me, and I promise to apply the same simple growing principles here in the high country, and in Colorado where you and grandpa followed your hearts. Over the years we passed houseplants back and forth, shared different tricks for specific flowers and plants. You gifted me with my first garden gnome and an incredible collection of unique pots and tools, which will stay with me forever.
Three days before you left us to be with grandpa again we spoke. You asked for permission to pass along a variegated Poinsettia that I had gifted to you a few weeks before to a family friend. Your concern for the care of the Poinsettia verified your caring heart and refusal to misuse a living plant. I did not realize at the time you were saying goodbye. I love you, and miss you everyday.
To my mother Sherrie,
I can think of endless adventures and lessons learned from you over the years. Starting the first year of my life there was a place where we began to bond and develop a lifelong common devotion to the Rocky Mountains. It was there at grandpa’s A-frame cabin by Grand Lake where I learned many of life’s great lessons by a wonderful instructor. Biking, fishing, swimming, firewood collection and starting techniques, animal scat and footprint identification, I was a Junior Forest Ranger at an early age, and so proud to be like you.
I will forever be indebted to your dedication to sending us outside. You told the three of us to come home when the streetlights turn on. You taught me what to do when approached by wildlife, and how to read and react to nature even at night (thank you for pretending to be a bear and scaring me more than once, I know you were just testing me).
Years later and various life roadblocks later, we reconnected at grandpa’s A-frame. Working for the school district back home, you had been spending the summers there for years. I was in between jobs, homes, relationships, and growth. An avid home and A-frame cabin gardener, you began to get requests from other vacation and part time visitors to maintain gardens.
After just a few LONG months (we pretty much agreed to do anything, including rock work, flagstone paths, and building patios) I could not believe that I could possibly have a career built on my love for nature and the mountains, something you gave to me. I returned to school, moved enduringly to the mountains, started a gardening business, and am grateful everyday.
Thank you so much for your humor and natural wild streak. Your devotion and respect for dad is endless, he clearly indicates that you are his Liberator, and I will constantly compare love to the two of you. The radiance you feel in the mountains is clear, and I understand what it feels like. Thank you for being you. I love you.