Memories of Gardening with Mom

A lot of us here at Swansons have memories of gardening in our childhood. Whether it was helping to weed, planting flowers, harvesting vegetables, or mowing the lawn, most of us spent some time in the garden learning about plants and life from our parents.

In honor of Mother's Day and our wonderful moms, we wanted to share some of the fond memories we have of spending time with mom in the garden.



My mom, Babe. Her mother died when she was an infant and her 6 older sisters couldn't decide on a name. "Babe" stuck with her throughout her 93 years.

My mom, Babe. Her mother died when she was an infant and her 6 older sisters couldn't decide on a name. "Babe" stuck with her throughout her 93 years.

My mother was an amazing homemaker. We had a 1/4 acre vegetable garden and orchard and I got a very young start in helping plant the garden and harvesting it when things became ripe. Mom gave me very thorough instructions on how to tell when something was ready to be harvested. As I kid, I hated snapping beans and shelling peas after evening chores and before homework.

My mother canned everything she could get her hands on before we got a freezer in the root cellar. I have often wondered how our family would have made it through the long winters without all the fruit and vegetables she canned. All of this canning was done on a wood-burning kitchen stove. To my recollection, not a single jar she preserved did not seal, and this included the long hours for string beans to boil. She loved her kitchen and would happily show off her totally filled 15'X15' root cellar, which was standalone building with thick sawdust walls outside the backdoor of the house.

My mother taught me everything she knew about gardening and the orchard and preserving which I continue to practice today. Internal thanks to my very humble and kind mother who was a powerhouse for her small 5' frame!

Our house with the root cellar just to the left.

Our house with the root cellar just to the left.


My mother visited me in Seattle, regularly, from Chicago. She loved for me to drive her around the different neighborhoods to see the spring plants blooming in Seattle yards. She was known in her Chicago condo association for the beautiful hanging baskets she prepared for her patio. She also planted the condo's common area, so full of color. 

I will always remember her first trip to Swansons. We had so much fun looking around ooohing and ahhhhing! She bought me annuals to fill 3 or 4 spring containers and planted them for me. She has been gone 4 years, but I know her spirit is smiling at me, remembering back on our Swansons visit and that neither one of us would ever have imagined that one day I would be working at this very special place. Mom, I miss you, always think of your smile, and know you are happy for me. Happy Mother's Day to all.


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In the summer, if I wanted to see my mom I had to be outside. She was in the garden all day long. I remember we wouldn't read my bedtime story together until at least 9pm, when the sun went down.

I was happy spending time with her in the garden. As a little kid, I would help her and munch all day on the sorrel she grew. I still love lemony, sour tastes!

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me all I know about vegetable gardening!


My family lived on the rural Jersey shore when I was growing up. I remember my sister and I, when we were about 6 and 8 years old, got permission to walk all the way down Wayside Road to a visit a man who had a bunch of greenhouses. He must have been a wholesale grower. He would let us come in and pick out geraniums for our mom, only 50 cents each in nice clay pots!

We walked all the way home clutching the flowerpots to our chests, excited to give them to our mom on Mother's Day.


I think for me, gardening was one of the few times it was just mom and daughter time. I learned everything I know about gardening and houseplants from my mom, and now that I'm working at Swansons, I'm able to pass some new knowledge back to her. Like how you need to water a cucumber regularly or it will go bitter. We could never figure out why our cucumbers were so bitter! We let them dry out!

Now that I'm older, I appreciate all that she's done for me. Gardening is really about learning life lessons: Patience: waiting and waiting for the seeds you planted to finally come up; and perseverance: having multiple plants die on you and finally figuring out the reason why.

I go home once or twice a month and help my mom in her garden. I think the best part is weeding - just getting out there and accomplishing something! 


Me and my grandma, Marge, in her vegetable garden.

Me and my grandma, Marge, in her vegetable garden.

I have wonderful memories of gardening with both my mom and her mom, my grandma, Marge.

I remember playing in my grandma's worm bed whenever I visited her in Seattle and watching her add coffee grounds and vegetable scraps to soil that was so rich, it looked almost black. She grew the best vegetables and flowers in that soil, and all the neighbors would come by to chat and eat snap peas from her vines in the summer. It was my first experience with vegetable gardening and I was hooked.

My mom and I have been gardening together my whole life. Her pride and joy is her rose garden (with at least 25 roses, maybe more) and I remember helping her plant a "fence" of espaliered apple and pear trees around it. I also helped her plan her secret garden, shaded under a beautiful old apple tree and filled with hellebore, lily of the valley, ferns, and pansies.

We always end up doing spontaneous DIY garden projects together, like making an arbor for scarlet runner beans out of old wooden trellises strapped together, and we have so much fun shopping for plants together at Swansons, it's dangerous. We always end up buying many more than we intended. Thanks, mom, for teaching me to appreciate beauty in even the smallest detail!


I remember my mom loved to visit garden stores and the only way she could get me to go with her was to promise me a ride in one of the red wagons. I also remember photos of me as a baby, lying on a blanket on the grass as my mom dug in the garden. I was happy to roll around on the blanket, knowing my mom was close by.


As I’d arrive home, I’d find vases filled- single branches of Prunus cerasifera or blades of Crocosmia. Her art was conveyed with plants; we traded in the Chrysanthemums at Thanksgiving and replaced with clippings of Nandina (for the red berries), Cotinus (with its cream-colored plumes), and fruiting Ficus. In the spring, fragrance from the bunches of Syringa vulgaris would waft the house and by summer we’d harvest our cherry tomatoes.

My mother has forever inspired me to take notice of the natural world, and to always follow my instincts, and more importantly my heart. 


My mom is a spry 80-something. She enjoys growing her own fresh vegetables and watching her flowers bloom. We have spent many a fun weekend together planning her garden and just enjoying each other's company.


My mom, Lesli, and me at Swansons.

My mom, Lesli, and me at Swansons.

Most of my gardening memories with my mom are borne fairly recently. We discuss and troubleshoot our indoor plants, and I always admire her lush garden in front of the house. These days, we especially have a good time walking around Swansons and bringing home more plants than our gardens really have room for.

We didn’t garden too much in my childhood, but my early memories of gardening are still with my mom. I would get to help her upkeep the flowers she grew, as she often kept beautiful hanging baskets outside on the front porch. I sure do have a lot of memories around my mom's rhododendron, too. In the summer, she always encouraged me to deadhead any expired flowers and I had bounds of entertainment looking for rollie pollies under the rocks that lay in the shade from the rhodie.

My mom got me my first little cactus, too. Thanks for sparking my first interests in flower gardening, Mom. 

Happy Mother's Day from everyone at Swansons!