What I remember first about plants as a kid was that there were never any inside. There were a few potted flowers on the front porch but not much. Usually a Christmas cactus someone received as a gift or a pot of hothouse mums that were bright and cheery around Easter and looking dead by fall. In the back yard we had a fruitless mulberry that I felt sorry for every year after it received its annual pruning that result in a giant mass of knuckes, reaching for the sky.
In the backyard there were a few walnut trees that I loved. They were huge!
My rope swing was in one of them and I would climb on the fence, holding onto the rope, and then launch myself like Tarzan. When the walnuts would ripen we would spend a weekend gathering them and then laying them out on screens to dry. Peeling the skins would turn my fingers green. Later I would help my grandmother crack the nuts and freeze them.
There was an apricot tree in the very back yard. (We had two back yards.)
I was a horrible to that tree. I didn’t like it for some reason. Maybe because I really don’t like apricots at all…the texture….bleck. As a kid I used to hammer nails into that poor tree just to see the sap run.
The rest of the backyard was mostly just dirt because nothing would grow under the walnut trees.
In the front there were a couple of trees that I only remember as huge. I don’t know what kind they were but there were a pair of them, one on each side in the front and surrounded by grass. They were always “base” when we play hide and go seek or the batter’s box when we played baseball.
Along the side of the house were three orange trees.
When we opened the windows on that side of the house the citrus smell would flood the rooms.
There was a privet hedge between my grandmother’s house and the house next door.
When I was really young, an old woman I only knew as Ginny lived there. She made the best Congo bars. I wore a hole in the hedge sneaking over to see her as much as I could.
In the parking strip next to the street there was nothing but Lippia, a flat ground cover that was covered with little white flowers in the summer and the little white flowers were covered with bees. Every bee sting I ever got was from going barefoot on that ground.
There were flower beds up next to the house but not the orderly kind. It’s funny as I think about it now – my grandmother was such a neat and tidy person inside but the garden never seemed to bring her the same kind of joy. I don’t know that she ever added plants as much as she just took care of what was already there.There were some roses, planted on little mounds with dirt basins around them.
I’d get in trouble for breaking the side of the basin but I liked to watch the water rush out of the break. Next to roses were lots of calendulas.
I think they were supposed to keep the bugs away from the plants.My favorite of all the plants in the yard was the nastursiams.
They were a project in school. We planted the seeds in egg cartons and brought them home. My grandmother didn’t want them in her front garden but eventually I got her to let me plant them near the roses. I think she was sure they would die but year after year they kept coming back.
Out of all the plants in my childhood garden the only ones that were California natives were the walnut trees.
Your turn. What plants do you remember from your childhood?