Tuesday, September 1, 2009
My dad was a good gardener and loved to exhibit the results of his efforts. The garden club's motto in Lotus City was " Share what you know and show what you grow." He gardened there in his retirement and was an avid member of the Lotus City Garden Club, but had mellowed by then. He and I often gardened together when I was a boy, in the olden days when we lived on the bald prairie. He grew up on a farm and had no training in horticulture, but he had the knack, in spades! His start in exhibiting on the prairie was with sweet peas and vegetables! Growing sweet peas on a single stalk for the longest stem,the most florets and blemish free. The cucumber that is perfectly straight,evenly green without a flaw and big, but not too big. Exhibiting and competition were everything to him. We exhibited gladiolus and dahlias in speciality shows later, in Regina, Calgary and Winnipeg. His whole energy went into getting the biggest and best of specimens for the show and it started in the early spring. In our little town, our gumbo soil was ploughed with cow manure by the farmer whose field we used. The freight shed floor in the railway station was covered with gladiola corms and dahlia bulbs: corms that we had peeled, disbudded, dusted for thrip, and positioned for straight sprout growth. There was hardly any room left for the freight. I remember once driving to Regina all through the night in a truck with a load of glads, all staked, sitting in washtubs, stabilised through chicken wire. Regina was 120 miles away and I was not allowed to drive more than fifteen miles an hour or the glads would shake too much on the gravel road, and the wind would whip them. He drove the car in convoy, with all the paraphenalia needed for display. My mother went with me, and kept nudging me, to keep me awake. I and most of my brothers and my children inherited his knack. It is no surprise to me, however, that I am totally averse to exhibiting. My garden is personal. We take what we will from our parents and leave the rest behind.