Who Wouldn’t Be A Grower?


With rake and seeds and sower,
And hoe and line and reel,
When the meadows shrill with “peeping”
And the old world wakes from sleeping,
Who wouldn’t be a grower
That has any heart to feel?
~ Frederick Frye Rockwell, “Invitation,” Around the Year in the Garden, 1913


Our Wisconsin Public Television station sponsors a magnificent Garden Expo every February. It cannot come at a better time for winter-weary earth-tenders whose new garden catalog pages have worn thin, and whose eyes have tired of gazing at the bleak winter landscape. This year’s political chaos made escape into the merry and civilized madness of gardening seem even more welcome than usual.

Thanks to a friend’s kind invitation to stop in to give our 4-legged brood a lunch break, we were free to take the better part of a day and attend the expo, then enjoy a meal at an Afghan restaurant, wander around the Capital Square, do some shopping, and enjoy a leisurely ride back to Full Moon Cottage. A perfect day.

The expo was comfortably crowded when we arrived. Over 150 exhibitors lined aisles decorated with their displays and booths, some much more elaborate than others.
There were informational booths on raising chickens, keeping bees, growing prairies, and on hiking state trails. (Gardeners are nature lovers, after all.) Since we live on a state trail and near a state park, I enjoyed both of the booths sharing data and history on these.
There were tools and tractors, seeds and plants, landscape designers and contractors, ready-made sheds, and many artists whose garden-themed work or garden ornaments added wonderful color, whimsy, and beauty to the great hall.

There were purveyors of honey, mustard, soaps, and other products that incorporated garden harvests. And, of course, there were seminars, demonstrations, and workshops throughout the weekend, to help gardeners explore new methods or interests, and hone their skills at creating their own Edens.

Early on, there was space and time available to stop and talk with many of the exhibitors, which we both enjoy. For the first three hours or so, the aisles could be navigated easily and the exhibits seen closely, the way I like. I hate that feeling of wandering zombie-like in a slow-moving crowd and having my sight blocked at every turn, which eventually happened. The hall at last became too crowded for this short girl to move freely or see much. My 6’4” beloved scanned and reported what was coming up, so I missed only the last half of the last aisle completely, which I considered a grand job altogether. I’m glad we arrived early.

I fought the temptation to spend too much money, but did leave with a lot of new brochures and catalogs to dream my way through over the next two months, until we can really get to it in the gardens.

Phillip isn’t as passionate about gardening as I am; going to the Expo was a Valentine treat to me, although he enjoyed visiting with a lot of exhibitors and welcomed the day’s sweet adventure. I am so grateful for his willingness to be a true companion. At one point, making a turn around an aisle in the middle of the hall, we heard one man say to another, “Yeah (sigh), my wife loves this crap.” He rolled his eyes and commiserated with his listener.

Phillip and I laughed, but I felt sad for his wife, because this guy couldn’t enter into the spirit of her joy a bit more. Nothing like one’s own true love choosing the role of begrudging grumpus.

As the day ended and we drove back towards home, I thought about tending our relationships, about the friend who volunteered her time so we could enjoy a fine day together, about Phillip’s loving gift of an adventure that he knew would delight my heart, about the ways I hope I nurture these relationships and others…I watched the men ice-fishing on Rock Lake and wondered if their partners were happy for them to be there, enjoying the peace and camaraderie of their friends, and if the anglers had plans for activities that equally supported their partners’ spirits and joy.

“Who wouldn’t be a grower/ That has any heart to feel?” asks the inveterate gardening writer Frederick Frye Rockwell. I would add that one can choose to grow her heart and capacity to love as well as her garden, and hearing that man’s comment made me all the more joyful to be partnered with someone whose heart is big enough to value my happiness, and support it so well. Having Phillip beside me is what made the day so special; it’s what makes my life so special.

May you be as blessed in those companions who share your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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9 thoughts on “Who Wouldn’t Be A Grower?

  1. Great assortment of snap shots of ‘life’ well lived….I’m jealous. Looks like a fun expo! Having just gotten buried yet again in this latest winter storm I think I will put away the garden catalogs for a bit longer…It’s going to be a while 🙂 Thanks for sharing….Peaceful thoughts…..VK ❤


  2. Yeah, I’m a little jealous of your winter this yea. We’ve had a lot of icy days, rainy days, foggy days, but only a few snowstorms, and even they didn’t amount to much…must move further east or north. 🙂 Today is glorious, very late, March-like! Just to have sunlight is lovely. Blessings to you, Hollis.


  3. Kitty, it sounds like you had a delightful day – a perfect winter break! Our local “house and garden expo” is mostly a house show and very light on gardens – I have to travel across the state to Philly for a real garden show and by the time that comes, I can actually get into the garden. I think all of us gardeners long for spring about now; it is actually warm here today and I plan to get outside and do some raking and pruning – yay! I love the photo of your pups looking out the window 🙂


  4. Hey, Lynn! Yes, it’s warm, here, too, and it looks like a full week of it, but I’m not going into the gardens yet, like you, just cleaning up a bit and pruning…and cutting some pussy willows for indoors. 🙂 It would be so easy to get carried away before I stopped to tell myself it’s still February, and who knows what weather might be in store for us yet this winter? Sigh. But what loveliness this warmth and sunshine has offered us.
    The Garden Expo was perfectly-timed and an great joy-infusion, that’s for sure. And those pups are so darling I can’t stand it…sending love to you and your Angel!


  5. Thanks for the trip to this wonderful expo, Kitty. I felt like I tagged along with you. I, like you, am always appreciative of those hubbies/significant others that are happy to spend time with their wives/companions even if the trip or event isn’t exactly their cup of tea. Never seems much to ask, and sometimes the simple things like time spent together makes anything fun. Glad you had such a nice day and that you had a friend to care of the “small fry.” Thanks for the great photos, too. (Loved the bird in snow). Jeanne


  6. Thank you, Jeanne; how kind of you to take the time to visit and share your sweet words. It was a wonderful day, just a great midwinter break. I agree that sharing our partners’ interests is fun! Thank you again for your very welcome visit. Joy to your week!


  7. You and Philip are lucky to have each other, soul mates for sure. I just love seeing your boys growing so fast, they too look like they were always meant to be together.
    That show looks so colourful and vibrant, a real Aladin’s cave, filled with treasure, it must have been hard trying not to spend money. The sight of seeds….oh, how I long to plant some. It’s freezing here so not much can be done in the garden. Roll on spring and better weather for all of us!xxx


    1. Oh, Dina, yes, we could’ve blown a wad of wealth there, that’s for sure, but did manage to come away with inspiration and a lot of information. 🙂 I loved some of the sculptures, but didn’t buy any this time around, and the seed packs really get me going…one day, I will have a greenhouse!

      The boys are doing well and the cats have adjusted well, too. Murphy is their special buddy, and Fergus likes to tease-play with Micky…we are a merry crew!

      So good to hear from you, and send my love to your sweet brood and, especially, to you, my dear buddy!


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