Friends Friday Fun: For Whom Does Your Garden Grow?

Note: This is the second in a series of bi-weekly Friday chats. Feel free to weigh in on the conversation for a week or two after the initial post.

The conversation sparked in response to chat resulting from last weeks Friends Friday led to my mentioning a John Phillip Santos memoir that informs some of my choices in our garden.

This is the specific passage from Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation that charmed me three years ago:

Their houses smelled of cinnamon tea, marigolds, burning church candles…They tended garden plots of geraniums, squash, tomatoes, cilantro and chile, decorate with stones that were painted to look like Popeye, Olive Oyl and Cantinflas…They healed children, and animals, with their remedios, potions and poultices made with herbs that had names like el garrabato and la gobernadora.

The plants that I keep in honor of this passage are marigolds and geraniums.

Long-time readers know that I always plant zinnias for my maternal grandfather, to whom this blog is dedicated.

Of course, I’m not alone in deriving inspiration from books and people. As Joan shared last week:

Louise Erdrich brought me geraniums. Before her gift, I dismissed them as a flower old people planted in cemeteries. I avoided them in nurseries. I thought they were “common.” Their unattractive selves came only in a bad shade of lipstick red or a neon that hurt my eyes. They smelled funny, too. I wanted no part of them until Louise Erdrich with one turn of a sentence transformed them into a flower I had to have.

This stream of thought has me wondering who among us, besides Joan and I, has a favorite passage or story that is referenced within the confines of their garden.

Do you have a “garden inspiration story” to tell? Is there a particular plant that you “must have” each year? Share your experience via blog posts (trackbacks here are welcome), a link to an existing page, or post your comments over on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I love your question ‘For Whom Does Your Garden Grow’. This is my garden inspiration story: The plant I feel most connected to in my garden is my HollyHock. It was in the innocence of my childhood that I fell in love with HollyHocks. They grew tall and beautiful along a fence behind my grandmother’s house in Detroit, MI. I felt they were one of the most beautiful pieces in the puzzle of creation. Like lovely adorned women standing straight and tall. My sisters and I would pick blossoms and buds, being careful not to take too many, and then we would use tooth picks to anchor the blossoms & buds to each other forming little HollyHock dolls that resembled southern belles all dressed and ready for a Gentlemen & Ladies’ Ball. Now, when my HollyHock blooms in my garden, I’m taken back to days spent with my grandmother, picking blossoms and sitting on the covered porch of her old white farm house.. one of the only ones left on busy Joy Road in Detroit. She has passed from this life and that old house has been torn down, but the memories of my grandmother and time spent with her are still a part of me over four decades later. With each new bloom that opens, I hear the giggles of three little girls and I’m taken back to a time of innocence.

  2. Oh, Cynthia. This is perfectly lovely. Just lovely. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Love this topic. I grow snapdragons in memory of my father. He would always let them reseed much to the dismay of his gardeners. I collected seed from his garden when he passed and now grow them in my yard.
    I also have been given Peonies from my Mom who inspired me to garden when I was young. I learned about gardening and life lessons from her and the Peonies in my garden will remind me of her forever. We love to go plant shopping together still.

  4. Snapdragons! My mother always relishes making them “snap.” I had a batch reseed here–in pots!–a couple of years ago.

    My paternal grandmother had peonies in the last house in which she lived. I love them, too. They won’t grow here, alas. But I do so love to see them!

    Thanks, Kristin!!

  5. As a child and still today, my favorite hymn, “In The Garden”, gives me the peace and promise much needed through several times of mourning in my life: loss of father (I was age 8), sudden death of older sister just as we became closer in adulthood, and more recent loss of my mother (who taught me to appreciate ALL gardens) and of my step-father just last year.
    I have four connected gardens (floral cutting, perennials and roses, woodland, and wildlife habitat) which honor each of them, and each garden, of course, is a lifetime work in progress, as I frequently hum “I come to the garden alone, as the dew is still on the roses…”

  6. Patty,

    What a lovely, lasting tribute to your family members. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.


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