The Family Graham Garden

Photo 2019-07-08, 8 38 02 PM.jpg
My Nonna Stella at 83 years young planting her epic garden wearing pearls. She has church pearls, wedding pearls and garden pearls.

My Nonna Stella at 83 years young planting her epic garden wearing pearls. She has church pearls, wedding pearls and garden pearls.

We all have our favourite spots in our homes.  The chair we like to curl up in to read.  The stool we sit on to have our morning coffee.  The corner of the couch we tuck into and binge watch TV.  This spot for me is our vegetable garden.  It’s the place I can’t wait to get to on Saturday mornings and the one I miss most in the winter. 

My love for a garden runs deep.  I remember plucking carrots out of the ground with my Dad when I was maybe 7. We’d dust them off, run them quickly under the hose and snack away with the bushy green ends intact.  I come from a family of gardeners.  Not for hobby, but out of necessity.  My Ma’s family immigrated to Canada from Italy from 1949-1952 and for them, growing food was a way to feed their very large (11 kids) family.  They grew everything you could think of and preserved a lot of it to last throughout the winter.  My Nonna Stella still does this at 83 years old.  She has the most epic garden in all of Guelph, ON.  We’re talking 40 pepper and eggplant plants, 12 cucumber plants, 10 zucchini plants, 30 tomato plants, 160 garlic, and 150 onions.  She gets very little from the supermarket and feeds herself and much of our family from her garden year round.  She is #GardenGoals.  

Photo 2019-07-08, 8 40 31 PM.jpg

I planted my first vegetable garden at my first home in Toronto when I was about 27 and I’ve had one ever since.  The one at our cottage is the garden I’ve always dreamed of as it overlooks the lake and gets the perfect amount of sun.  We’ve tended to it lovingly (black fly bites and all) for the last few summers.  Some things we’ve grown successfully, others not-so much.  But each year we get back at it because it’s meaningful for our family.  It’s also connected to a lot of memories.  Every Thanksgiving weekend my Dad and I plant our garlic.  And each Mother’s Day weekend, we get the garden ready for the season and start some planting.  Every Spring we’ve got things to reflect on, and new and exciting things ahead to talk about.  Our engagement, then planning the wedding, my Mom’s retirement, planting while very pregnant with Bea, and then her first birthday are all special times that are marked with chats we had in the garden.   It’s these little hallmarks that make it such a special place for me.

This year especially gave me ALL THE FEELS when Bea got right in there with us.  She kissed some worms, planted some potatoes (eyes up!) and asks me every morning if she can go say “good morning” to the plants.  It’s important to us she has an understanding of where food comes from, the work that goes into it,  and that carrots are not perfectly shaved down little nubs that come in a plastic bag.  As the season goes on, I can’t wait to watch her watch the plants grow and produce fruit. 

I’m pretty sure my love of getting my hands in the dirt and marveling at how things grow comes from my upbringing. And the hope is that the things we show and teach our kids stays with them.I hope to be like my parents one day; playing and planting in the garden with my grandkids.