Garden Nostalgia and Recharging by Kathleen Thach

Garden Nostalgia and Recharging

Playing in the Dirt”

Kathleen L. Thach

Gardening is in my blood. Born and raised on my grandparent’s farm in rural Pennsylvania, I spent many happy hours in Pappy’s fields and Grandma’s gardens. 

Being in a garden, any garden, calls me back to gardens past.   Working in gardens--playing in the dirt—marries nostalgia to other benefits of gardening:  physical exercise, elevated mood, stress relief, connection with nature and breathing in fresh air.

I’m recharged whenever I sow, plant, transplant, prune and weed.  I’m recharged when I cut flowers and put them in vases and display them.  I’m recharged when folks visit and share the joy. I’m recharged when I reflect on the people who either gave me plants or inspired their inclusion in my gardens. 

A good example is my “Sara Tree”, a dwarf magnolia, a gift from Molly, Anna and Matthew in 2008, after Sara, my thirty-year old niece, died in a hiking accident. 

Other flowers, herbs and shrubs in my gardens remind me of and connect me to others. Periwinkle, yarrow, rose campion, day lilies, iris and yucca acquired at a church plant exchange in the ‘90s remind me of Ellen, Barb, Karen and Eileen.  Heliopsis, tall phlox and lenten rose remind me of Jeannie. 

Giant hydrangeas, once container-size Mother’s Day gifts, remind me of David.  Tiger lilies remind me of Anna and Matthew’s school fund raisers.  Blackberry lilies remind me of Brenda and her mountain home. Succulents carry me back to my sister’s garden.  A red geranium reminds me of Rosalie, who first placed it in the church in memory of Jim.  Cleome reminds me of Bernie.  The list goes on.

Visitors to my gardens usually ask me where I got a specific plant.  I tell them, if I remember.  And I often say “My grandma had those.”

My grandma had lily of the valleys.  They grew under her front porch steps.   My grandma had bleeding hearts.  They grew under the apple tree in her back yard.  My grandma had iris.  We called them blue flags.  They grew along the lower edge of her lower garden.  My grandma had zinnias and marigolds seemingly everywhere.  My grandma had geraniums and wintered them on upstairs bedroom window sills.  My grandma had coleus and wax plant begonias as border plants.  My grandma had rain lilies.  They only bloomed during and after a rain.  My grandma had lilacs.  My grandma had peonies.  My grandma had mint tea.  We called it meadow tea.  It grow at the edge of a meadow by the chicken house.

Most of these plants continue to flourish in my gardens.


Visit a garden, if you can.  Work in one, if you can.  And remember.  Remember people.  Remember the Creator.  Remember scripture and hymns and spiritual songs. 

Engage your senses.  Stop!  Look!  Listen!  Taste!  Feel!  Hear!
You’ll be recharged!