Our Family Garden


My mother was born in rural West Virginia in 1917 and was a young girl when the Great Depression hit. In order to feed their family of eight children, her family grew an abundance of fruits and vegetables. My mother married at the beginning of World War II learning to live with rationing. So gardening was in her blood.

My family was never well off, so her gardening became our way of life. She would always plant an array of vegetables, “putting them up” for the winter months. But her passion was flowers. However, she didn’t always have the money for that extravagance, so her flower garden was planted with cuttings from friends and neighbors. When she did have a little extra for annual seeds, she planted them with delight, always saving the seeds at the end of the season. One year when I was young, I remember helping her to collect the seeds. She told me they would be planted the next spring and we would have more flowers. The next spring I helped her plant her collection of cosmos, marigold and zinnia seeds. I would check the garden every day to see what came up. I was so excited to see the flowers finally starting to bud. Then it happened…they finally opened. And what a surprise! There was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen. But what was it?

I ran into the house and almost dragged her outside to show her the wonderful, strange flower. When my mother saw it, she said she did not know what it was either. It was pink with a single round of large petals on the outside and a mound of closely packed short petals in the center. She said to her it looked like a cosmos that had crossed with a zinnia. I can remember several neighbors coming to see the wonderous new flower! It graced our garden for several years before the seeds were lost in a move. Sadly, we never took a picture of it, but I can still see it clearly in my mind’s eye.

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sfether1980, “Our Family Garden,” Community of Gardens, accessed March 5, 2024, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12321.​
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