Archive for April 23rd, 2011

April 23, 2011

History, gardening and experiments

History was never my strong suit while in high school.  In fact, I remember many classes struggling to keep my eyelids propped open.  I never understood the point other than learning from it so we don’t make the same mistakes twice.  But really…why were we studying this?  How would it ever apply in life?

It wasn’t until I was in college and selected a major that I started to get intrigued by history.   I was a German major my first go around, so I was learning all about German history and was actually interested. Then I decided to study abroad, in Austria.  Naturally my next round of history classes were about Austria.  I found this equally interesting because I would be going there.  I could apply it to something.

Now, I don’t proclaim to have memorized all the details.  I’m more of a big picture person in pretty much every facet of my life.  I couldn’t repeat detail for detail what happened, but I can tell you the overall concept and the impact it made.

Fast forward about 15 years and I went back to school again focusing on Landscaping and Horticulture.  It seemed like a natural fit for me.  I’ve always enjoyed gardening.  I grew up helping in the veggie garden, planting flowers and even “propagating” Hens and Chicks when I was quite young.  I remember being 7 or 8 years old and realizing that if I gently removed the “chicks” from the “hens” and nestled them into open soil, they would begin to grow quite well there.  It wasn’t long before we had a nice crop of them just outside the back door!

I also vividly remember growing my green bean in a cup in elementary school and trying to grow avocados from the pit on numerous occasions.  The excitement I got from this was ridiculous.

Ever since I’ve had a place of my own, I’ve had far more “house plants” (plants I grow that happen to be in the house) than most normal people.  I’m constantly trying to grow something new, just to see if I can. In fact, when I moved out of my apartment (which I shared with a roommate) to our first home, there were 3 pick-up bed loads of plants to move.

So you see, I think I’ve been a plant geek pretty much all my life.

How does all of this tie into history?  Well, somewhere around the time that I was thinking about going back to school I went to visit my mom in Washington DC.  She took me to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, plantation and gardens. If you ever get the opportunity – go there! It’s by far one of my favorite places. I fell in love.  I think that’s when it hit me that my fascination with plants isn’t so odd, or, if it is, at least I’m in good company.  Learning about Jefferson’s gardens, micro-climates he created to grow olive trees and grapes that never should have survived in Virginia was so inspiring. Again, history had a place for me.

Thanks to Jefferson, I continue to try grow new things all the time.  I’ve now got my own grapes, pears, apples and hardy kiwi not to mention the veggie garden and perennials.  I’m never afraid to try growing something new, that’s how I learn.  Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

My next experiments are going to be an olive tree and date palm (grown from seed) and I recently heard there’s a banana tree hardy to our area.  I just might have to try that too!

Happy experimenting!