Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Eucalyptus surrounds my childhood memories of gardens, both in scent, sound, and sight. It was everywhere in my 1970's Southern California life, and its stringent scent is so ingrained in my very makeup that I can smell it a block away today to locate one.
I'm the daughter of gardeners, and while I may have tried to shun this fact as a teenager, photos like this prove to me I have always been in the garden.
Southern California was a bountiful place to grow up, surrounded by avocado trees and citrus, and produce that grew year round. Jacarandas and their purple blooms dropped while I ran over them with my banana seat bike. Lantana was both the name of our street and the flower grown as a bush at the end of the back lawn.
Seasons were nonexistent and something to experience when visiting family in Kansas. Because at home, we went to the beach for Christmas.
But the gardens of my childhood remain with me today, in how I live and see outdoor space, where I spend my time, and how I find peace in working the dirt or walking through the paths. Elements of my childhood gardens deeply permeate our gardens...thickly fragrant jasmine at the back door and front porch, wild spaces of blooms grown with abandon, fuschias waiting to be picked and made into floating fuschia ladies, and the poor pitiful gardenia I continue to be determined to grow though even in Year 5 it's barely grown since planted.
And abundance...as a teenager I think of another house and the space we had for rows of corn and wheelbarrows full of carrots. Living in an avocado orchard, guacamole was an everyday food item, and fallen fruit was eaten by our dog. Oh such shiny coats our dogs had.
I love this photo of me in a front garden at our house on Lantana Street. Its composition shows the photographer was taking in both their daughter and their landscape, an eye on both. The eucalyptus drips from above, and the child crouches among the annual petunias. You can see the row of eucalyptus behind our house, edging the strawberry field that grew right up next to our back wall. Today those fields are full of houses, but in my memory, I can hear and smell those trees sway in a coastal breeze. I am that child, and that child is me. Dreaming in a garden.