Grandpa Mark was a master gardener. He loved to nurture things and watch them grow. One of my earliest memories are of his beautiful gardens in Lafayette, California. We used to go up to visit him and Grandma before we moved to Hawaii. I remember being 2 years old and Grandpa putting me on his shoulders so I could pick fruit off his fruit trees. He would take me around his garden telling me about all the different plants and tell me the names of the roses that he nurtured so carefully. My Grandma loved roses and he tried to grow the prettiest roses he could for her.
We moved to Hawaii shortly before I turned 3 and after my brother Eric was born, my grandparents moved to Hawaii also. Hawaii was a whole new gardening world opened up to my Grandpa. He delighted in having a clean slate when they built a new home on which to design and nurture a new garden. He planted roses for Grandma but also developed a huge love for orchids and started growing them in addition to his veggie gardens. Grandpa could turn any piece of land, no matter how steep the grade of it, into a gorgeous and productive garden. The first house they built had a beautiful water feature. He had a pond built and let each of us grandkids pick a goldfish to live in it. Goldfish were much cheaper than Koi and much easier to replace. ;) After he completed that garden, it was time to build another house and design another garden. The second house had a very steep grade in the back yard and Grandpa terraced it and built steps all the way up to the top. He grew all kinds of veggies in that garden along with his prized roses and orchids. I remember the perfume of the roses drifting in through the guest bedroom windows when I would spend the night at their house. Once that garden was complete, they again moved and built another house where the garden would be on one level and not so much going up and down steps for Grandpa. He also built an Orchid House since he was now buying more and more orchid plants and they are very picky about their environment. Grandpa scaled back his gardens at this house but he still planted roses for Grandma and had the most amazing orchids I have ever seen. I remember one orchid plant that he had on the back patio. He called it a popcorn orchid. It had small yellow blooms that looked like popcorn. I had seen other plants like this but none as HUGE as Grandpa's. When his other orchids would start to bloom in the Orchid House, he would bring them inside for Grandma to enjoy and they would take a place of honor where everyone could see them in the living room.
Gardening for Grandpa was an act of love. He enjoyed making things beautiful and bringing a smile to people's faces. It also was a great stress reliever for him. When my grandmother got sick, he could escape the sadness of that for a few hours out in the garden while still being close in case she needed him. He would also bring in roses and orchids to brighten her day.
I think my Grandpa would be proud of my mother, my son Chris and I. We are continuing his tradition of gardening and trying to make life beautiful around us. It is a family effort with everyone pitching in. I am amazed at how much my Grandpa did in his gardens all by himself. His gardens were always beautiful and well weeded...something that tends to get away from me. So thank you Grandpa for instilling a love a beauty through gardening in each of us. Your gift to us lives on and hopefully will continue down through many more generations to come.