Although Mom never had any formal training in horticulture nor did she receive any certification for a master gardener program, she was incredibly knowledgeable and fairly well known in the Chester County area. With dizzying accuracy she could spew out nomenclature that included the genus, specific epithet, cultivars, subspecies and hybrid of any plant that grew in our region. I did not fully comprehend or appreciate her knowledge until I discovered a video journal that she had been keeping of her garden (once again this is something she did on the cusp her of second diagnosis for cancer). Here she walks us through her gardens on a weekly basis describing and naming every new growth that had come up that week. Now that I too am a certified plant freak, I was floored by her knowledge and fluency in this floral language. Better yet, I completely understand this Latin language! Oh how I wish we could share that together now.
Our yard was always open for impromptu tours of her gardens as well as the popular, scheduled ticketed tours set up by local arboreta and horticultural societies. People would come far and wide to ooh and ah at her spectacular cultivations. When the gardens weren't on tour, she ran a small perennial sale business where she would divide all that she grew and offer it to anyone and everyone for a steal. It was a word-of-mouth type business that nearly drove my Dad nuts but she thrived on this and loved forming new and lasting friendships along the way some of whom are clients of mine now.
Although horticulture seemed to be her main passion, Mom had other ways of "planting seeds". She was very passionate about her Christian faith and spent countless hours volunteering at our church that was located a mere two houses up the street from us. Unfortunately, Dad did not share this love and neither did we but when Mom had a passion for something, nothing stopped her! Her prayer, faith and gentle persuasion got the best of me and so reluctantly at first, I trailed along behind her. I am forever grateful for this seed that she gently planted in me. My faith grew and grew and I spent the remainder of my teenage years and all of my spare time at church. This is not only where my faith planted itself firmly in me, but it is where I met and married my husband of 25 years. She had a way of not cramming her faith down your throat. Instead, she gently and even quietly planted her seeds and like a good gardener, she would step back and watch them grow only tending to them when she thought it was necessary.
Mom can no longer tend to her seeds of faith and beloved horticultural plants by herself but I know she lives vicariously through me and I have vowed to carry on her passions. Today at The Barclay, I am happy to say that both my mother and my father tend to three house plants that grow in the lounge area. There is a sign posted among the plants and it reads "These plants are lovingly tended to by Martha and Ken Barnett." Dad helps Mom water them. The thought of this usually gives me a lump in my throat but I have to say the plants are happy, healthy and thriving...and so are Mom and Dad.