If you spend enough time in a garden, it will tell you about its gardener. The garden of my Mom and stepdad, Bill, mostly tended by Bill, is no exception. It is full of flowers, vegetables, and herbs,
The flowers are for beauty and for butterflies. Bill loved butterflies. Don’t tell my butterfly-conservation friends, but back when his eyesight was good (decades ago), Bill caught butterflies to use in art, posed with dried plants in box-frames.
Right now, the cosmos are providing nectar for migrating Monarchs, but Bill is not here to enjoy either the flowers or the butterflies, because my stepdad, Reverend Bill Shaw, passed away on Saturday, just a few days ago. When he and my Mom married, back in 1997, he and I became gardening buddies.
Bill’s Oklahoma garden always grew more vegetables than his household could eat. Tomatoes would take over the kitchen and peppers pile up in any bare spaces. The overabundance meant there was plenty to share.
The herbs are mostly for my Mom. They show that he loved her very much.
Bill’s garden reflects his preference for a well-ordered and tidy space. The plants are spaced far enough apart that there is room to work around them. His garden also shows that he could outsmart the groundhogs.
When the groundhogs first invaded, he tried all kinds of traps and baits that didn’t work. The groundhogs ate the plants from below, while underground, which made catching them more difficult. Finally, Bill bought some plastic food-grade barrels, sawed them in half, then sunk the halves into the garden. He planted much of his garden in those half-barrels, which kept out the groundhogs.
This planting strategy shows the creativity of the gardener. No groundhogs were harmed, but the plants were protected.
Back when Bill’s hearing was better, we would talk on the phone about our gardens. He was my main source of information about old-time garden practices. I was his source for information about new varieties and crop diseases.
I will miss Bill and our discussions about his latest plans for the garden.