Grow Write Guild #21: Gardener


Some of us begin working the soil fully consciousness of a desire to become a gardener, while others can spend years growing plants before we awaken to the realization of who we have become.

For me it was the latter. I spent years, on and off, collecting houseplants, nurturing cuttings, and messing around with the seeds of grocery produce, never making an association between what I was doing and the word “gardener.” In that time I dug up and grew a successful food garden and carved out a growing space from a half-dead piece of city land. However, it wasn’t until friends started to ask questions about the mounting collection of pots on the roof of my building that the word gardener entered my vocabulary. Gardening was something that I did without assigning intention or a name to it.

What about you?

Grow Write Guild Prompt #21: Write about the moment when you knew you had become a gardener.

Further Notes and Questions:

  • If you are having trouble pinpointing an exact moment, think back to other occasions and events that may have lead up to it. Ask yourself: What was the first plant or seed that you grew? When did you first seek out garden reference material? What was the first garden tool that you bought or procured?
  • Looking back, try to answer the how, when, and whys of your journey to becoming a gardener.

The Grow Write Guild is a creative writing club for people who love to garden. Everyone is welcome to participate! Click over to the Grow Write Guild FAQ to learn more about it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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7 thoughts on “Grow Write Guild #21: Gardener

  1. It almost makes me wonder if I could possibly be a gardener too. I recognise all of those symptoms – messing about with cuttings and planting seeds from grocery items. And I used to have about 90 houseplants back about ten years ago. I loved reading this, and seeing how being a gardener crept up on you. Wonderful.

  2. For my last year of college (1978) I rented a large farmhouse with 3 other girls. The father of one of them worked at a flower shop. Each time he visited us, he brought a tray of houseplants. Soon the daughter moved on without the plants, they were all neglected and it fell to me to care for them. I realized I knew nothing and started researching at the library. I believe this endeavor was the first step in the journey that forged my “identity” as a gardener. I still have two of those houseplants! – an angel wing begonia, repeatedly propagated for others, and a Christmas Cactus. Although I expanded my repertoire to include all types of outdoor and indoor plants, my sentimental and symbolic favorites are the houseplants.

  3. When I was younger, both of my Grandmothers gardened, though they didn’t consider themselves such. The men, who mowed their lawns and trimmed their hedges, were the “Gardeners.” It was their occupation. I understand their way of thinking. It comes out of the WWII years, when everyone had a specific job to do and gardening was not my Grandmothers’ job, keeping the home fires burning was their job.
    This kind of thinking that professional gardeners are the only gardeners and everyone else is a hobbyist, isn’t quite relevant for today.
    I consider myself, a gardener, but I always did and always will. I grew up identifying, both with my Grandmothers’ love for gardening, as well as with the men, who worked in my Grandmothers’ gardens. It is all wrapped into one identity.
    So when you asked, “Do I considered myself a gardener and when did that take place?” My answer is, “As far back as I can remember.” The response brings to mind, the opening of the SAG Awards, when the actors identify themselves and then say, “I am an actor.”
    “My name is Sam Webb and I am a gardener.”

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