A gardener’s story – “Late-Blooming Gardener”

I met Ricki on BloomingBlogs.com. She is a fellow blogger and author. (Congrats!) She has been blogging since 2007 and her blog is a joy to read. I reached out to her to see if she would share her gardener’s story and this is her contribution.

When I was a kid, if someone happened to mention a “garden”, it always meant a plot of veggies. Everything else was referred to as “the yard”. That was small town America. In the wider, more sophisticated world, people were tending their gardens, all unbeknownst to me. Nature, on the other hand, was always my playground. We lived close to the Clackamas River, the social center of our town all summer long. Our house backed up to deep woods, the setting for fantastical flights of fancy and daily adventures in which my friends and I starred as huntresses of great skill and cunning (our prey was entirely imaginary).

My mom was an artist. She became deeply involved with every school function that called on her talents: sewing costumes, making stage sets, creating all of the booths for the school carnival. Oddly, it seems to me now, she only occasionally dabbled in the yard. I can actually remember each instance. She bought a camellia, which sat in its pot in the driveway until it became parched and ragged before my dad finally dug a hole and stuck it in the ground. Someone gave her a bunch of Siberian iris that put on a marvelous show for a few seasons before choking themselves to death.

As an adult, I became an artist too…and a mom, with a busy life and a string of home bases with precious little space for gardening, even had I been so inclined. Escapes into nature remained the preferred “winding down” activity. So I was primed, you might say, for the turn my life took at about age fifty. Children had been launched into their own lives. My love and I had moved into a house with an adjoining vacant lot. My main client was a nursery and garden store. Everything conspired to spit me out into that empty lot, which I slowly but steadily sculpted into a garden.

The ten years it took to transform that rubble-strewn lot into a lush garden were personally transformative as well. My book, BeBop Garden, chronicles the journey from raw beginner through all of the learning experiences I managed to soak up during that time. More importantly, it touches on all of the ways in which gardening brings entry into a society of like-minded strivers who will open their hearts and gardens and claim you as one of their own.
Now we live just outside of town on nearly four acres. A whole new set of challenges keeps me on my toes in the life-long learning lab of gardening. Starting a blog, Sprig to Twig, brought a whole new crop of gardeners, unlimited by geography, into the mix. I have dipped my toe into other blogging communities where comments often drip with sarcasm…even outright condemnation. Not so with gardeners. We are a warm, supportive, ever helpful bunch. Gardening is a solitary, contemplative activity…which makes us all the more eager to share our thoughts and discoveries. It is impossible to feel isolated with my new blogging buddies just a click away.

What the lot looked before the transformation

What the lot looked before the transformation

A progress shot

A progress shot

The garden that merged

The garden that merged

Gardener Bio:
Ricki’s first job was wrapping holiday gifts at a department store. Her second job was designing gift wrap for a paper company. She hasn’t held a “job” since, working as a freelance graphic designer while pursuing passion projects that have included fabric art, paper art, ceramics and, most recently, gardening. She lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, with Homo sapien Richard and Felis silvestris cati Manny and Boda, and has recently upgraded to a 2.5 acre spread.

If you would like to tell your own gardener’s story, please click here .


  • […] like to invite you to visit Rusty Spade to read the piece I wrote for Petunia’s ongoing series of gardeners’ stories. While […]

  • Another piece of fantastic story. Thanks for doing this series; it’s so wonderful to read. One day, as promised to you, I should also write up my own.

    • I look forward to reading it and sharing it with others.

  • I love this! Ricki is awesome and I loved reading her book! It’s great to see photos of the transformation. I really like your new series! :)

    • Thanks Anna. I have enjoyed getting to know my readers, fellow bloggers, and friends through their stories. And I am amazed at Ricki’s 10 year project.

  • Thanks for this fascinating guest post. I have admired Ricki’s many talents for several years now and it’s great to hear more about the fabric of her life.

    • Hi Jane – Yes, I too have been enjoying Ricki’s blog ever since I met her on on BloomingBlogs. By the way, I love the name of your blog.