Updated: Nov 8
By: Daryl Twerdahl
Having grown up in the Mississippi Delta, gardens are in my DNA. Flower gardens, vegetable gardens, orchards, and of course miles and miles of crops that looked like gardens. A garden automatically triggers a smile from me and an abundance of happy memories. As a child, I was allowed to “ride the farm” with my father, which meant riding double with him on what seemed to be his very large bay mare. As we rode. And inspected the crops, I learned about crop rotation, succession planting, irrigation and pesky pests! These vast “gardens” of cotton, soybeans and rice were, of course, the holy trinity of southern farming.
On the other hand, there were the flower beds that my mother so carefully planted and tended each year. My favorite was her iris bed, which I could see looking out my bedroom window. She had several colors in the bed, but really leaned into her favorite, purples and lavenders. She seemed to have the perfect touch with her iris, and in fact, she was often the first-place winner in the Town and Country Garden Club, of which she was a founding member.
Besides having a beautiful cutting garden, my mother had a large abundant vegetable garden which sat on land that previously housed a stable, so you can imagine the quality of the soil and the produce that came as a result of it. My mother had all sorts of vegetables from the standards of black-eyed peas, tomatoes and okra to the exotic, or at least what seemed very exotic at the time, asparagus and baby English Peas.
Just as I had my garden ritual with my father, I had my ritual with my mother. At 3:30p.m. most summer afternoons, she and I went to the garden to pick what was ripe and what looked best for dinner. It was at those times she let me pop the raw sweet English Peas straight from the pod to my mouth. The sweetest sensation and even now, English Peas bring back a flood of memories for me. And though I was often enlisted to help shell Purple Hull Peas and Butter Beans, a task I did not care for at all, I loved the results of those garden to table vegetables that were bursting with flavor and color.
Although it has been many years since I have devoted much time to my garden, I am doing so again. Remembering the rituals of the garden, the beauty and the expanse of those days spent in the gardens and the preciousness and care of the land feels healing in a substantive sense – something we all need now. Joining the Hancock Park Garden Club is very much I am just where I am meant to be, and that is lovely.
Pictured below are Daryl's mother (left) and Daryl and her best friends as “flowers” at the garden show. In the right hand photo, Daryl is on the left as the Iris!