Garden writing lifts me up.

The Art Of Gardening At Number 15.

22nd October 2018.

It all started when I was young. My mam had a small town front garden. It was just 20 feet wide by about 40 feet. It was her oasis, and all because dad was the hydration officer! I have many memories of Number 15.

The Google van rolled by in 2015.

The most vivid is when, during long, hot, dry summers the garden hose was retrieved from the back shed, rolled out through the living room and the hall to water the oasis. It was tied up to the kitchen sink by a dangerously leaky attachment, and dad proceeded to shower the garden lightly all over. I think he didn’t much like having to sort out all the preparatory bits, but when the water was flowing, he came to see the temporary therapy of the task. There were a few choice words uttered silently whenever the water flow was interrupted by the sink attachment exploding away from the tap. However, whatever about the frustrations of the hose-holder in the garden, the water damage in the small scullery was more difficult to manage. The hose would detach and coil itself snake-like until it rested on the lino floor and would release some water by counterflow, and Dad would shout in for someone to tie it back on once more. Mostly, his calls went unanswered, as we were a busy household and everyone had their specific jobs to do. As time went by, this job was scheduled and whoever was put on tap duty was required to answer the call. At some point also, it was decided to add some twine as a backup. When the hose was attached to the tap, it was also tied in order to prevent such sudden detachments, and this seemed to work very well.
Mam was the gardener. Over the years she created a beautiful display of plants, and she tended her patch with diligence. My recollection of her favourites include dahlias, roses and the beautifully simple marigold.

My love of Marigolds comes from home.

I watched annually as she tended these wonderful summer visitors. Visitors, in the sense that they appeared every year from the seeds of the previous. She minded them, carefully limiting them where wanted them to grow, disposing of other seeds that grew in the wrong places. She had dad to water them, and she garnered the flowers for a small indoor display. She continued with regular dead-heading to prolong the flowering season. I did not know it at the time, but I realised later that I was learning so much about this lovely plant. Years later, I had my very own selection of marigolds, and whenever she visits my garden she is brought back in time. In addition to learning about how to care for plants, the bigger picture is much bigger! I learned:

  • to care for the earth
  • to see patience in action
  • to view planning ahead as important
  • to see beauty amid life’s difficulties
Michael and Mary 1957
In short, I learned the art of gardening. Of course, I learned many other things too. Our road of 20 houses sported many fine gardens. It was generally an inexpensive hobby when times were hard. As I grew through my teenage years, I became aware of how much pride mam and dad took in having a lovely garden. Mrs. Murphy four doors down was in a similar situation, and there was some rivalry. My dad would say that hers was not as good as ours. He would say this only to us, for fear of being accused of pride, and I felt he said it also to highlight his contribution because Mr. Murphy never took a hosepipe in hand!
Dad kept the oasis watered. Photo approx 1990.

Note: For the past number of years I have updated this page from home. Sometimes it has been on a regular basis, and sometimes neglected for weeks and months. Finding dedicated working time has not always worked for me, as I am distracted by actually going to the garden, hoovering and having to hang out the washing! So, I opted to write away from home. I have booked in to Dungarvan Coworking Hub at the Enterprise Centre on Main Street.

Perfect background for garden writing!
Petals by Paraig office space.
Do you have childhood garden memories? Did you have any unusual garden tasks? Share in the comments below. I’d love to rekindle memories!
Páraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves marigolds, good neighbours and away-from-home office space. He also remembers his mam’s garden with fondness, but not having to tie the garden hose to an indoor tap.

15 thoughts on “The Art Of Gardening At Number 15.”

  1. Thanks for sharing stories of your mum's garden and plants. I love to read them. Make me think of my own mum whom I still miss a lot. Can't really recall any unusual task assigned by her. But I'm now slowly filling up my small garden with some of the plants she used to plant when she was still around – to commemorate her.

  2. Thanks Jade. The circle continues, as you plant things your mam liked. In my case, mam is with us alveit a bit more feeble. Dad passed along in 1996, I was happy to locate the photo of him sitting in my garden. Beir bua! 🇮🇪

  3. Lovely read Páraig. My Mam was a great gardener as well and you definitely absorb the love of the garden like osmosis. Not even aware of it until years later. Even when I was a student in grotty digs in Salford I dug the tiny patch of earth at the back of the house (think of the start to 'Coronation St') and hopefully did some planting. I was canny enough to plant ferns – the only thing that would grow in that 'garden'!

  4. Remember Coronation Street well, and I can empathise also with grotty digs! Dublin was bad enough, but Salford? Oh crikey! 😜. I'm glad that you read through some of my memories. Beir bua! 🇮🇪

  5. I used to have that experience as well with my hose….catastrophe. Your mother must be delighted when she sees your fabulous garden, as I know it would win a prize it is so beautiful and flourishing. It is a joy to read this article, and I hope you write more of them. I never knew you had this talent for writing and describing experiences so well, and that you had such a funny sense of humour.

  6. Thank you, a chara. Yes I love the garden, so writing about it is a no-brainer! Hosepipe technology had improved, but we need to be sure not to use it on indoor plants, yeah?

  7. Oh! The garden hose I laughed at that one, our back lodge (next to a very small kitchen) flooded every time even with the string on. I loved my grandfathers and uncles plots (allotment) the veg standing so tall with rows of chrysanthemums and dahlias for cutting and local shows. My plants are not local show specimens but we still eat them and delight at the colours of flowers. Thank you for bringing the memories back

  8. Thank you, a chara. Memories are amazing, and completely unique, of course! I too love dahlias and produce from my small veg plot. The taste is fab. Enjoy your plot and your memories. Happy to have triggered a few for you.

  9. Let me tell you, Pádraig, of my wife’s great uncle Tom. Your account of your father attaching the hose to the kitchen sink brought it to mind. Tom had worked for many many years as a longshoreman in New York – a great friend of “Mr.Sinatra” (Frank’s father) while there. On retirement, he returned to Waterford with his wife Kate. Mary recalls many “incidents” which Tom initiated while Kate was down the town – introducing Mary to percolated coffee, blue chees and boloney at a very early age! On one occasion he went about tarring the bottom of a boat at the living room fire – just a good example – but on another, because he truly missed the convenience of the shower he had become used to while in New York, he decided to install his own. A metal rose from a garden watering can was “fixed” somehow to the ceiling in the scullery. A hose was attached to the sink and fed to the rose. Another length of hose was attached to a gas cylinder and likewise fed to the hose. There’s no need to go on – you can picture the plan that was in his head and the mess which followed.

    1. Reminds me of a story about a cranky farmer through whose land the gas pipeline was being installed from Kinsale to Dublin. He insisted on an under the counter connection. So, for a quiet life, the lads connected him. It lasted until they had moved on. Turns out they attached a cylinder of gas underground to the pipe!

  10. My mom once had to transport me to the hospital because I was having a more severe than usual asthma attack. My dad stayed at home with my siblings, but I could read the worry and concern on his face as mom slowly backed out of our driveway with me gasping for air in the backseat. Dad knocked on the car window and motioned for my mom to stop the car and roll down her window. As she did, dad quickly snipped a rose from the climber growing next to the driveway and handed it to me through the open window. To this day, probably 50+ years later, I often think of the love I saw in his face when I see a red climbing rose.

    Thank you for sharing your memories and prompting me to recall a special one of my own.

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