By Nancy Lynn Jarvis
It’s not a surprise to me that many avid gardeners are older or that many people become avid gardeners in their senior years. Gardening takes experience, not with plants, soils, watering, and fertilizing ― those understandings are skills which can be studied and learned ― but with life.
Young children can have gratifying gardening experiences by planting sunflowers or zucchini or other showy sure-fired plants that grow quickly and we older gardeners may spring for a flat of in-bloom annuals looking for some instant gratification, too, but at heart, we’re plotters who have learned the value of patience.
It’s understandable that when I head to my local garden store to check out the clearance section, I run into other senior gardeners. We stand there passing sad looking potted plants back and forth based on their color, sun requirements, and where we live. We appreciate that there’s no need to be in the peak of glorious bloom to be worthy of love. We like bargains and have the experience to know that, with nurturing and possibly a nap, the tired perennial s we buy for a song will reward us for our care next year.
Our gardens remind us of who we are, where we’ve been and, who shared the journey with us. In my garden I have an inherited coffee tree. My sons and I brought it back from a trip to Hawaii for my dad. It’s big now, but fuller than its branches with memories.
I took my sons to Hawaii after their father left me for another woman. I was terrified to make such a trip with a seven and ten year old, but determined life would go on…splendidly. We had an amazing time and learned that we were still a family. The plant we carried back was tiny and shouldn’t have done well in foggy San Francisco where Dad lived, but he was older, and a gardener, and it thrived under his care.
When my dad was in a nursing home near the end of his life, I went there every day to have a cup of coffee with him; he loved his coffee. As I care for his tree now, I know memories of loss and sadness, because those are part of life, but mostly his tree floods my heart with memories of love, adventure, sharing and nurturing, and a life well spent.
My garden has a rose in it that’s as old as I am ― my gardener dad’s doing, as well. He started it from a bouquet of pink baby roses he brought my mother when I was born. Its trunk is a bit off center and occasionally its leaves look sparse, but it grows and blooms and lives. It’s a tough old thing that has been uprooted and challenged with less than perfect soil sometimes, but it still puts out riots of tiny pink roses. When I look at that rose, like it, I’m strong.
Especially in my garden.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years and is still licensed but she’s enjoying writing so much, she may never sell another house. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare Santa Cruz at UCSC.
Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. “Mags and the AARP Gang” represents a new direction in her writing adventure. After four Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, Nancy put her characters, Regan, Tom, and Dave, on hiatus so she could let Mags and her gang, characters who had been forming in her mind for the past year, tell you their story.