Feb 8, 2016

Despite the snow falling outside on this blizzardy day, I'm thinking back to trips I took with my dad to the garden store; him passionate about plants and gardening, me loving sunshine, mud, worms and such. We would return home with flats of annuals and bags of cow manure and my dad would fill pots with petunias and geraniums. The station wagon would stink for days.

I remember my otherwise upright, Republican, pillar of the community father discovering creeping Charlie (aka glechoma hederacea) at a swanky garden party at an Admiral's home on Coronado Island. He surreptitiously pinched off a stem, hoping to coax some roots. I imagine him stashing his pilfered cutting in his pocket and feeling a little bit guilty at the transgression. As I recall my mother was not amused.

That little bit of green did take root. As my father learned, given the right conditions it really takes off. We had it cascading down walls, crawling through planters, threatening to take over our patio. His experiment was an astounding success. His shame melted into pride.

On spring days when I stroll the gravel paths between flats of annuals dripping with water, I find myself gravitating towards geraniums and petunias. But then I remember that maverick corner in my father's soul that led him to pinch a plant at a party. So I try new things. Sometimes they threaten to take over my garden, sometimes they wither and die. Sometimes they become my new favorite thing.

But always, ever constant, are those old favorites, the stately red geraniums: the cheerful marigolds, the fragrant and delicate petunias. I imagine they are earthly reminders of lessons learned in the garden with my father.

Painting: Red Geranium © Lissa Banks 2016