I've always grown up around plants. When I was 4, my mom quit BOEING, started landscaping, and opened her own business out of our back yard. She built a giant second greenhouse that held water plants, cuttings, potting materials, and just about any plant she could get her hands on to resell. Along the side of the house and in the carport, she placed troughs to display water plants. Inside the shop she had a tank full of goldfish and koi with prices of the sizes and types written on the glass. I still remember the purple business cards and her personalized stamp with the logo on it. She named it the Potting Shed.
My mom built a giant pond in the back yard, including a waterfall, and filled it with huge koi. I remember going out in the morning with her and throwing fish pellets onto the water. For a couple summers, the neighbor's alligator snapping turtle got out and lived in the pond (now it might live somewhere in Cathrine Creek or Lake Stevens). In elementary school we brought the class butterflies over to release them with all the flowers before school let out for the summer. Plum, cherry, and apple trees bloomed in the spring. Growing up I picked up apples in the summer, five cents an apple.
In the garden she grew corn and pumpkins and dahlias. I used to eat snap peas right off the vine - they were my favorite vegetable growing up. The raspberries have taken over the garden now, but they still taste just as good. Bunnies lived in hutches under the grape vines, and a home was made for doves that we received from a family friend.
Rhododendrons are scattered around the property, and the snowball trees blooms every summer. Every night, when my mom called me in for the evening, she told me to wash my feet because they were black from the dirt of playing outside without shoes.
Now the oasis of my childhood home is overgrown - not nearly as tamed as it once was. Yet the beauty is still there.
When I walked into the greenhouse, I was instantly reminded of my childhood. When I was itty-bitty, I used to go into this greenhouse, pluck off parts of the succulents, make funny voices into the fan, and breathe in the distinct smell of the humid air.
These are just a few of the "trash orchids" that my mom has in her greenhouse. Yes, trash orchids. She found more than 20 of them sitting next to a dumpster outside of a wedding venue in Everett a few years ago. They had been used as floral centerpieces, but no one took them home after the wedding was over. So they ended up by the dumpster. My mom scooped up as many as she could fit into her car, and now her greenhouse is full of them.
I don't visit my hometown very often. But it is interesting to see how everything keeps changing, even when you're away. Some things are improved and updated with a new, fresh look. Others, like my mother's oasis, age like a fine wine, and get better with time.