This is my dad; he turned 103 years old last week. Yesterday I spent the day working in his beloved garden, one of my birthday presents to him. (What do you give a man on his 103rd birthday?) My father has always had a garden and loved working the land. He got this love from his mother and I suppose he passed that love on to me.
My father retired at age 76 and for the past 27 years he has spent all his days lost in his garden. He believes that plants are a gift from nature so purchasing plants in a nursery is sacrilegious. He has a magic touch when it comes to growing new plants from cuttings and many of my own garden’s plants come from his. He used to take morning walks around his neighborhood and that generated many of the plants seen in his garden today. He has always been generous with his time and knowledge of gardening and plants and to this day neighbors, friends, and family seek his horticultural wisdom. This past year has been difficult for him as his mobility is reduced and eyesight has grown poor, restricting him considerably but he continues to spend most of his days outside sitting under a tree, contemplating his beloved garden.
My parents have lived in this house for the past 40 years. My mother is 93 years old and also loves gardening. Except for a few senior ailments, both are in relatively good health and live at home with help. Since they love their independence, this arrangement is good for them and I hope to facilitate that independence for as long as I can.
My dad’s garden has no “theme”, no real “look.” Every plant is welcomed and the location or placement is not important. Over the years, he has planted many fruit trees which have given our family and friends many delicious treats. He has always loved bromeliads and these hardy plants fill many of the spots around the garden. He gave my mother a small kitchen herb garden, which I have duplicated in my own back yard. These days, his garden is neither as tidy nor plentiful as it used to be but I am trying to keep it up for both of them. I am always careful and ask for his guidance because, after all, it is his garden!
He built this gazebo years ago
My dad is asked all the time, what is the secret of his long life. He always answers good genes and getting along with everyone. I would also add that a life in his garden has also added years to his life.