Starting Out with Gardening
By the time I was launching into my adult life, I had lived on three continents and had at one point or another been fluent in multiple languages. However, I did not have any idea how to garden (my cooking skills were not any better, but that is a story for another time).
I limped along every summer, reading what I could, listening to family and friends, and using a lot of trial and error, mostly error. I loved the idea of gathering fresh produce from my garden for the upcoming evening’s meal. My knowledge, however, was accumulating at a glacial pace.
Glenn the Gardener
My family then moved to a new house in a new city in a new state. Our next door neighbors were Cindy and Glenn. My garden muse presented himself in the unsuspecting form of Glenn, my new neighbor. A teacher by trade, he is a coupling of all that is both brilliant and quirky.
I had never heard of using corn gluten meal as an organic herbicide on lawns. Creating a garden conducive to attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects was a new concept to me. I knew not of the advantages and how-to of companion planting. It seemed that all my questions and garden challenges were answered with a wise solution or a “let’s figure this out.”
When Glenn planted a collection of prairie flowers on a strip of our adjoining properties, he introduced me to the multitude of benefits that come from using native wildflowers in your landscaping. Glenn has since graduated his prairie yard into an actual prairie on his 20 acre property just outside of town. If you want to see butterflies and other pollinators, this is the place to go. As they say, “Build it, and they will come”. Well, Glenn planted it, and they came in droves. Long before it became popular, he has been intentional about fostering a climate for pollinators.
Learning from the Master
As someone with many questions, learning was made simple because of being able to walk a few feet to the south and know I could get the answers. Glenn introduced me to collectible lilies, composting, building living soil, catching rainwater, how to grow grapes, garlic, fruit trees, seed saving, and so on.
Gardening wisdom oozes from Glenn and Cindy’s property. Cindy, Glenn’s wife, quickly became a dear friend, and together we cooked, preserved, and all ate from the bountiful quantities. As is so often the case in life, as much as I loved the ease from their proximity, I appreciated his wisdom even more after we moved away. Having a garden guru at the ready jump started my passion for gardening, and I have carried his many lessons with me ever since.
Although there have been many other wise garden savants since Glenn, he was my first garden muse. My yard and gardens blossomed profusely under his careful tutelage. As a result, I have adopted his passion as my own. I will always be grateful to Glenn for living next door to me.