About Me

That's me in my Dad's garden with the rhubarb.
For me, the love of gardening was something I caught, not something I was consciously taught. I learned at the heels of my father as I shadowed him as he did his gardening around the first house I remember. That house sat on one third of an acre. My dad grew most of our fruits and vegetables. I remember the berries and the fruit trees most. We had a large Babcock peach tree. No peaches have ever tasted better than the ones I picked at peak ripeness from that tree. It spoiled me for all other peaches, except those from another Babcock tree we planted in Newbury Park in our second home after we were married. 

I grew up in Los Angeles County. The first home I can remember, the one with the big garden, was in Bellflower. I hated leaving that house and its peach, plum, apricot, and avocado trees. My dad had also grown a row of rhubarb plants next to the chicken coop. (Yes, he had chickens, too. You haven't experienced life as it used to be until you have seen a chicken on the chopping block and running around headless afterwards.) We had free-range chicken and organic eggs long before we knew what that meant.  I used to love helping my dad in that garden. He stopped raising the chickens when he began to travel for his work. Mom wasn't into livestock or gardening. 

When I was ten we moved to another house in Bellflower with a smaller yard. The garden area was very small, but Dad still grew tomatoes and there was  large apricot tree.  

When I moved to UCLA, my days of living with a yard and garden possibilities came to a temporary halt. Dorms didn't have gardens. And neither did the apartments where we lived after I got married in 1964 after graduating with a B.A. in English. I didn't have a yard again until we bought our first home, in Culver City. 

I loved our first home. It had a lily pond in the backyard with fish. The frogs and toads loved visiting it, as did the neighborhood children who climbed the back fence to gain access. Unfortunately, there was not much space to plant anything that wasn't already there. We both were working and our house was always full of college students from our church on weekends. That didn't leave much time to renovate the yard. I think we did plant a few tomatoes in the flower bed near the driveway. The plant I remember most at that house was the large bottlebrush that blew parts of itself onto my hanging laundry before someone gave us a clothes dryer. 

After we had lived in Culver City for nine years, my husband got a job in Newbury Park in Ventura County. It didn't have much of a backyard, either, but we made the most of the space we had. We planted a Babcock peach, a white nectarine, and a plum tree the first year. The house came equipped with an established navel orange and two pineapple guava trees. It was a shame I didn't like guavas, but my husband did. The oranges were delicious, as were the peaches, nectarines, and plums when they started arriving. Not long before we moved, we planted a bacon avocado and an apple tree, but we moved before they produced much fruit. 

In Newbury Park we had little space for vegetables those first years, but I did plant some corn and tomatoes. There wasn't room for more on that slope, even though we had used railroad ties to divide it into flatter tiers. In our last couple of years we lived there, our son built some raised beds in the side yard, and we were able to add a few more vegetables to our garden. By that time the fruit trees were so large there was no room for anything else on the hill. I paid the most attention to planting flowers in the front yard. The only ones there were some Lilies of the Nile in the flower bed outside our living room window and a rose bush in the side yard. We replaced a hedge along the driveway with a flower bed, and I grew scabiosa, dahlias, carnations, and many different annuals there. I liked adding color to what had been a mostly green landscape. 

I have few photos from those first gardens because no one had digital cameras back then. For that matter, no one had personal computers until just before we made what I hope was our final move to San Luis Obispo County. Now we have almost 14 acres, but only a small area of that has water. For the first year we lived here we traveled a lot for business during spring and summer, so we didn't plant a garden. 

When we stopped traveling, we started the garden you see in the first entries in this blog back in April, 2006. All we had then were the herb gardens near the house. Then we put in raised beds in a fenced garden area behind the orchard. We grew vegetables there, along with some flowers, berries, and grapes. I was quite happy back there until the ground squirrels attacked. 

This happened in 2010, and at first we had no idea what had hit us. I just knew it wasn't gophers. You can read about the damage in Abundance and Disasters, July 20, 2010. The photos will show you how the damage looked. If you start reading there, you will see how this blog evolved until what it is today. I don't think I will ever stop digging in the dirt and photographing the results as long as I can hold a trowel and get down on my knees. 


Kathryn Grace said...

How have I missed this blog until now? Your design is brilliant! Looking forward to catching up a bit here.

About chickens: I remember quite well how they look running around with their heads cut off! That was a factor of Sunday dinner (which we ate after church, not in the evening, which would have been supper). I've not heard of a bacon avocado either. Going to look that one up!

Barbara Radisavljevic said...

Thanks for your comment, Kathryn Grace. Bacon Avocados are delicious, but not as widely available as Haas, which I don't like as well. Only one farmer sells the bacon avocados at Farmers Market, and he's only there for a few weeks.

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