When I was ten years old, my family moved from our north-side 2-flat rental unit to a ranch home in the south suburbs, fulfilling our parents' long-time dream of home ownership and a place to plant a vegetable garden. The huge yard, the reasonable price, a low down-payment, and owner-financing were all factors in the decision, following months of house-hunting.
The yard was divided into sections. The flagstone patio was bordered on two sides by the house and garage, on one side by a raised shrub and flower border, and on the other side by a narrow path with a small, rectangular perennial bed on either side. The beds were bordered by miniature picket fencing to protect them from trampling by children and dogs. They were planted with perennials and spring bulbs. I remember roses, peonies, bleeding hearts, hyacinths, and tulips.
I learned you could divide a perennial and make more plants from my mom as she lifted huge clumps of peonies from the cool, dark soil. The apple tree one of my younger brothers planted from a seed was placed in the bed on the right, the sunnier of the two beds. It was planted inside the little fenced bed for protection from trampling feet or a lethal lawnmower attack. Last time I was at the house, after Mom had sold it to my youngest brother, the apple tree was still there.
Following the short path between the perennial beds, you entered the heavily wooded side of our yard where we played and romped with our dogs. Left of the patio there was a privet hedge that ran almost the length of the yard except for two paths, one in the middle and one on the side closest to the patio. The privet hedge divided the wooded section from the sunny, open, treeless section of lawn. The sunny side of the yard was bordered by a bridal wreath and honeysuckle hedge that provided fruit for the birds, privacy for our yard, and a cool, shady, secret spot for daydreaming and play. The wooded side of our yard was already an over-sized lot. The other side was narrower. It was, an open, sunny field where my parents would plant the garden of their dreams.
It was an excellent setup for a family with five young, active children. The garden was sheltered and protected from stray softballs and clumsy puppy paws by one of several privet hedges in our yard. It wouldn't be long before this ten-year-old garden girl geek was asking her parents to please, please let her use those brand new electric hedge trimmers to cut the privets. Legitimately concerned for my safety, they were reluctant. Finally after much begging and promises to be careful, I was given a chance with careful monitoring. Soon buzzing the hedges became one of my favorite hobbies. I loved the challenge of shaping them as evenly and prettily as possible. No one had to tell or ask me to do that job. I was happy to trim the hedges even if they didn't need any trimming. It was here in my childhood home where my lifelong passion for gardening was born.
to be continued . . .