Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gardens are not made by singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade

I am delinquent in posting about this year’s Volunteer of the Year.  I really thought I would get around to it last week while I considered what I am most thankful for this year.  But you know what they say about best laid plans.  On our closing work day, Susan gave me some lovely and thoughtful presents and a card which quoted a portion of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem about gardening, “The Glory of the Garden.”  I recalled two lines from the final stanza (quoted below), but had not noticed until last month the very appropriate lines about how much hard work goes into creating and maintaining a proper garden.  Her thoughtfulness and appreciation make all of my other friends pale in comparison.

Susan Tomlinson is the SACG Volunteer of the Year for 2014.   She is the epitome of someone who lives like she was dying.  Every single day I’ve known her she has been a giant and positive life force, is always self-effacing, helpful and cheerful, volunteers all over Central Ohio, works full time, and still finds time for joy rides and dinners with her friends.   I should really introduce her to Margaret Ann Samuels.  For Susan's superlative efforts at the SACG, she received a collage of pictures of her gardening at the SACG (which is also what we gave prior Volunteers of the Year).   Susan came to the Garden several times each week and always seemed to be helping with something extra beside her own plot and her own chores.  Granted, she had a smaller plot to tend that prior award winners, but we all greatly benefitted from her extra assistance this year.  This is just a summary of her help:

·        October: Pruned back flower beds and raked up food pantry plot

·        September: volunteered with Litter Pick It up

·        Helped tidy and secure the Garden after produce thefts in August and September

·        Pruned and weeded herb garden several times

·        Brought a friend who helped me plant tomatoes in food pantry plot

·        Donated tomato cages

·        Cleaned out the food pantry plot at the beginning of the season

·        Helped water the flowers

·        Did her chores without being nagged

·        Pruned roses

·        Regularly sent me emails asking for extra chores

·        Helped tend Mari's plot for a while during her recuperation
 
·        Has already recruited new gardeners for next year

·        Helped weed the strawberry patch in April.

 She also makes a mean apple cake. 

Of course, the SACG cannot be maintained without help from others in addition to Susan and me.  Frank and Barb have also – as they have been since we broke ground in 2009 – very helpful.    Virtually everyone who gardens here contributes to the continued success of the Garden and are much appreciated.

As the pictures reflect, the Garden looks very bleak and brown these days.   It was very different just six weeks ago.  I keep my fingers crossed that our frigid temperatures are killing those pesky squash and stink bugs, but are sparing our praying mantises, bees and ladybugs.  I am also grateful for all of the help in cleaning out the Garden every year.

Over Thanksgiving, I visited my childhood best friend who celebrated her half-century this week.  She's got a few years of gardening experience on me and a much larger garden (seeing as how she lives on a proper farm with cattle, burros, dogs, horses and two Eagle Scouts). A great deal of our conversation focused on growing sweet potatoes.  As I left, she gave me two potatoes so that I could grow white sweet potatoes next year.  (I didn't even know there was such a thing).

Gardening is easy, but is also very hard work.   It teaches the gardener that you cannot control everything (like the weather) and to be appreciative of even small victories.  As Kipling noted a century ago:


Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees

That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,