Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 63

My Black Thumb
"My garden is my
favorite teacher."
-Betsy CaƱas Garmon
Text and Art by Ginny Neil
I Moved To The MounTaIns of Virginia 30 years ago. I
came to teach but stayed for love. Love of the mountains, love of the peaceful lifestyle and love for a farmer.
my love for gardening took longer to develop. I had
never grown anything in my life before I married onto
the farm.
after the ceremony, my new husband, Joe, and I
moved into our house. It was built in the late 1800s and
not much had been done to it since then. after fixing
up enough rooms to live in, our next task was to fence
off a yard so the cows couldn't peek in our windows.
Joe suggested a modest area with a wire fence, but I
insisted on an expansive lawn and a white five-board

fence. as he agreed, he handed me a paintbrush and
told me I would be developing a close and personal
relationship with it.
that first year, I bought carloads of flowers from
various nurseries and planted our fence line with what
I hoped would be an artistic arrangement of successive
blooms to accent the white boards. I watered the flowers
and fertilized their roots and even sang to them as I
tended to their needs, and they rewarded me by dying.
every new plant wilted and sagged and eventually succumbed. But, the grass was magnificent. It grew all
summer long, and the paintbrush was soon jealous of
my relationship with my lawn mower.
the next year, I tried different varieties of flowers.
Perhaps I had made poor selections for my area. I also
planted several bushes. again, I watered, fertilized and
sang. again, the plants all died. every single one.
outside the fence, a phalanx of orange daylilies mocked
my efforts. they were natives, present when we fenced
the yard. my vegetable garden, however, did well
except for a streak along one edge, where again, everything I planted expired. I was puzzled and convinced
that I was not cut out to be a gardener. I had a black

TradiTion. Vision. innoVaTion.

Parkway Craft Center
at Moses Cone Manor

Milepost 294 Blue Ridge Parkway
Blowing Rock, NC
Featuring fine traditional and contemporary crafts made
by artists of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild is an authorized concessioner
of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

May/June 2015 63


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