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
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
Sapodilla tree, also known as Nispero
Two orange trees
Sugar cane to remind him of his native Cuba
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.