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A Mother's Garden in a New Land
Written by Ann Thomas, probably in the spring of 1954

 


Background:
My mother had always lived in the hills of Southeastern Ohio.  Born on Curtis Ridge, she met my father in Cambridge.  They were married in 1940.  In 1949, we moved into this house on Highland Avenue.

Mother loved to grow things.  She even gave me my own trowel to play with.  One October I took some seeds from a jack-o'-lantern and planted them along the driveway.  Sure enough the next spring, somewhat to her surprise (but not mine), a pumpkin vine started to grow there.

 

Ann and Vernon ThomasMy father had been working for other people for over 20 years, first at Shoemaker Chevrolet in Falmouth, Kentucky, and then at Charles H. Sipe Chevrolet in Cambridge.  He had greater ambitions.  He wanted a dealership of his own.  When one became available in a small town 120 miles away, he took it.

So in 1952 we moved into a "double" (the south half of a house built for two families) in Richwood, Ohio, a village named for its rich farming land and for its abundant trees.  It's in Union County in the flat plains of the western half of the state.

My mother longed for the hills of southeastern Ohio where she had grown up.  When she heard in Richwood that someone lived "in that house on the hill up north of town," she got all excited until she discovered that the "hill" was only ten feet higher than the surrounding fields.

And although the soil was rich, she had little luck when she first tried to grow flowers.  She told the story in a poem she read to a club that she had joined, the Richwood Garden Club.

 

Fate destined we should go.
It was not for me to say "NO."

Leave the lovely hills of Guernsey County
And make a home in Richwood, rich in bounty!

New friends I knew we could make.
It was our lovely flower garden that was at stake:
Those hundreds of tulips, jonquils, hyacinth and crocus bloom,
Greeting us each spring morning as we looked from our room.

Then there were pansies by the score
Turning their cheerful faces to the sun as we stepped from the door.
Next the tea-roses, their colors bright and clear,
Making everyone happy to be alive who came near.

Ageratum blue
And white alyssum too
Stood guard along the rock border
To make the whole bed look made-to-order.

Dwarf marigold, petunia, calendulum, zinnia and daisies all there
Brought memories of Grandmother's garden bright and fair.
A beautiful silver maple was king of the lawn so green.
There our tuberous begonias were a sight to be seen.

And finally chrysanthemums by the score said hello
To all who stopped by, until laden with snow.


Then when I found it our fate to live in a double,
Where the shade trees, so great, for my flowers made only trouble —
Not enough sun for a lowly petunia to abound,
And the wind flattening all to the ground —
I cried in despair, "Why must I live here
And never enjoy the flowers so dear?"

Then the month of January meeting I did attend.
Mrs. Miller, in her talk on begonias, gave me encouragement no end.

Now I'm planning to grow begonias and begonias alone
In the shade, where I'm sure they will be at home,
And planning to run an ad in the Richwood Gazette,
"Wanted to trade:  One lot of shade — which I have plenty to let —
For several Garden Club members to stand
As a windbreak for my begonias in this level Union County land!"

 

TBT

For pictures of the flowers that my mother went on to grow in Union County, click the photo at the right.

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