Friday, April 18, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Hoe Hoe Hoe

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the garden.  My maternal grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis always had beautiful flowers and delicious tomatoes growing side by side.  Her garden was not the beautifully planned and dedicated space that drives aficionados of Pinterest to pin and repin.  But she did know the value of digging a $5.00 hole for a 50¢ plant.

Lucille Rucker Davis
Grandma on Easter Sunday 1967
As I looked for pictures to show off Grandma’s beautiful camellias and peonies, I just laughed at the sorry state of her flower beds.  Sadly, we didn’t catch them in their glory.  Our pictures are of beds that needed weeding and a little mulch.   In my mind’s eye, though, I see the sparkle of white Spirea in bloom.  Camellia bushes bursting with pink and red blooms.  Blue hydrangea bending under their own weight.  Tulips and daffodils.  Tall gladiolas in pink, purple, white, and yellow held upright with a stick.  Forsythia in March.  Azaleas in April.  Creeping Phlox and Candy Tuft dotted here and there to mark the outer limits of foundation beds.

Wendy Slade
I LOVED that purple plaid dress.  And Grandma's flowers, of course.

Grandma didn’t invest a lot of time in a vegetable garden.  She simply made room in the flower beds for a few tomato plants because even in the 1960s good tomatoes, “real” tomatoes, were not to be had in the grocery store.  She also had a reliable fig tree that supplied all she needed for everyone’s anticipated gift of fig preserves.

Maybe it is Grandma’s influence that makes gardening and canning appeal to me.  When my girls were little, we had a square foot garden.  It was fairly successful and certainly easy to manage.  But when we moved to our current house, I lost all interest in gardening as rabbits took over the garden, and softball and horse shows took over our lives.

Zoe and Jordan Mathias watering the garden 1985
Zoe and Jordan April 1985

Now the girls are grown and gone. I’m retired.  I have a new fence.  And a square foot garden.

Last year at this time, I was busy planning my younger daughter’s October wedding.  I don’t know who had the bright idea to decorate with white pumpkins, but I thought for sure it would be easy to grow our own, and cheaper too than buying them in the fall.  So I purchased seeds and dedicated most of the squares to pumpkin plants. 

Of course, I had to save room for a few tomatoes and peppers because the grocery stores still don’t sell “real” tomatoes.

In July, my pumpkins were coming along really well. 

The next thing I knew, my garden looked like the set of a B-movie, some sci fi flick in which pumpkin plants devour Chicago.

In the end, I got a handful of Baby Boo pumpkins and only one Lumina, losing all the rest to rot. 

One Baby Boo was the perfect "paper weight" for cocktail napkins.

One Baby Boo added a little sumn sumn to the cake table.

I didn’t inherit Grandma’s green thumb, but I got her hoe and watering can.

I’ve planted the seed, so please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday to see what is blooming in the blogisphere.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Grandma's hat could held a few plants on its own. Great photo.

  2. Interesting post. I never heard of square foot gardens or white pumpkins before.

  3. I enjoyed your post, and I do like the way you have it laid out. I'm using WordPress and don't think I have that flexibility, but maybe I haven't explored all the options yet. I haven't heard of Square foot gardens or Bay Boos either.

    1. In wordpress you can place pictures left, right or center and resize them so that they would be stair steps like this.

  4. I'm not much of a gardener either but at least you got something for the wedding from your garden. Great post with wonderful photos.

  5. Your pumpkin plants devouring Chicago Sci-Fi movie tale had me laughing outloud. But like Sally said, at least you got a few small gourd-like pumpkins to display out of all that. We rented a house once with a fig tree. There were never enough to can, but picking them fresh off the tree was a real treat!

  6. Loved the photos...loved the plaid dress too! And I love having things that have history like your watering can- although I believe that tool is a mattock.

    I love to garden- and am pretty successful but have no idea where it came from as no one in my family gardened that I know of...perhpas because I love a "real" tomato too!
    Happy A-Z!

  7. I don't have much success with pumpkins either, they look promising but don't usually come to much - guess I needed a lesson from my grandma and her father in that respect (see my SS post).

  8. That was just great.. Top marks for that post, And some of those photos reminded me of the Day of the Triffids. Last year when a friends pumpkin patch took off and started growing overnight she started dreaming that the Triffids were coming in her window. I hope you didn.t dream about your pumpkins !

  9. I love your purple plaid dress too! It was sad about the white pumpkins. Maybe we should try it again??

  10. "...the value of digging a $5.00 hole for a 50¢ plant." I like how you put that, Wendy.

    And I certainly identify with your sentiment about real tomatoes. We boycott store tomatoes, waiting until the time we can grow our own, or at least buy some from a local farm stand. The rest are like eating cardboard.

  11. I laughed at your line "know the value of digging a $5.00 hole for a 50¢ plant." For me that is the very definition of gardening. This past week the master gardener of the household commissioned me to build a $25 rabbit/ground hog excluder cage for what will likely be 25¢ worth of lettuce.

  12. Oh I just love that last photo and conclusion. Great stuff. I like that plaid dress too.

  13. My dad loved figs and every time I see them I think of him. We've grown pumpkins, too and the ones that don't make it (and even some that do) get thrown to the chickens - they love them and pick them clean!

  14. Al such lovely gardens, and lovely ideas to plant a garden as well! I remember your last year's garden photos from facebook too!

  15. Good for grandma making room for tomato plants amongst the flower beds. Well done with your pumpkin attampts, at least there were some to show off at the wedding!

  16. Pumpkins seem to be very tricky to grow. I've never had success. Probably putting the seeds in at the wrong time. One year I took some seeds from a very good melon and threw them into the orchard. The next year there was a long trail of vines and strange looking melons. Nothing was ever edible. I did not try this again. Good for you for giving it a go!