My Grandma and Grandpa Shepard lived in very Southern Missouri. It was so far south that you could walk to Arkansas. But what that meant was that spring came early and winter came late, resulting in a very long growing season. And both of my grandparents loved to garden. As gardeners they also loved to show off their gardens so when we went to visit, we would all go on a little yard tour to appreciate their hard work.
They had a little rock house on a corner lot which sat at the apex of where two hills met. This meant that the yard had a steep incline from the front to the back. In fact, if you walked down the sidewalk on the side of the house, you’ll see that the city built a few steps because the incline was so steep. There were some big hills in that town. Because of the hill in the yard, the garden was broken up a bit to any flat piece of land. My grandma loved to grow flowers and she lined her front walkway and all around the front of the house with flowers. She had irises (which she called flags), dahlias and peonies. I am sure there were others which I do not remember now, although she was into big showy flowers.
When my grandpa was living they had two vegetable gardens at their house, and because that was not enough, he had a big vegetable garden at someone else’s house. They always grew lots of tomatoes with the goal being to have ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July. In Southern Missouri that often was a reality where here in Chicago, we are happy if we have ripe tomatoes by the middle of August. They also grew lots of peppers both sweet and the hottest ones they could stand, plus cucumbers, green beans, pole beans, sugar snap peas and okra. And my grandma would also plant flowers there including sunflowers and zinnias.
I can remember going on these yard tours when we would visit. My dad always liked to garden so I am sure they just wanted to show my dad their garden, and because I was kind of a nosy kid who didn’t want to think I was going to miss anything, I just tagged along. So when I recently found myself in my backyard having my own yard tour searching for signs of spring, it brought back some of those memories. Also, I am so jealous that when we would visit my grandparents for Easter they already had flowers blooming. For all of my cousins reading this who live south of me in Florida, Texas and Kentucky, you will probably laugh that this is all of the signs my yard is showing of spring. I was excited though! Especially because the day after I took these pictures we had crazy wind and snow. At times it was snowing so hard it looked like a blizzard outside. April in Chicago is not kind, but I think there is hope.
I think these technically are weeds that grow in my garden but they are pretty so I let them stay.
The first signs that my peonies are coming up. Peonies are my absolute favorite flower. Apparently I take after my grandmother and love the big showy flowers.
The magnolia tree is getting close to flowering.
I love when we can see St. Francis again. My father-in-law bought this for us for our garden. Both he and my husband’s middle names are Francis. I always feel sorry for “Frank” (as I like to call him) in the winter because he looks cold outside and then when the snow melts he always falls over. So it is nice to see him looking nice and comfortable back in the garden.
I enjoyed my yard tour the other day. It was a beautiful 60 degree day and the hints of green are giving me hope that spring really is on the way. I know when I take another yard tour in a week or two, there will be so much more growth and color. I really do love this time of year. It is a time of hope and renewal. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy it (between the snowflakes for some of us). –June