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My sweet niece, Susie, posted some pics on Facebook this week that made me all nostalgic for my old homestead and that wonderful backyard and garden. Oodles of summer memories came back to me of my childhood and peeling corn cobs and picking peaches and even that dreaded weeding. That yard will always be, I think, one of the most pleasant places to sit on a lazy summer evening. I remember as a kid, after we girls

There's a grotto for a staute of Mary around the corner. All of us kids collected bits of pretty glass and marbles that my dad put in the cement 60 odd years ago.

There’s a grotto for a statue of Mary around the corner. All of us kids collected bits of pretty glass and marbles that my dad put in the cement 60 odd years ago.

had cleaned the house “spic-and-span” during the day, we’d all sit on the swing in the evening and sing old Broadway tunes or selections from Mitch Miller’s bouncing ball albums. I didn’t always love being there but can pull enough sweet memories out of that place to last the rest of my life.

After my mom died, my brother, Joe, became head caregiving-gardener of the space. Joe is someone who always downplays his incredible skills. Not only is he an excellent gardener but he can take everything he grows and create fabulous meals in no time at all. I remember being home one time and having to leave for the airport in an hour. Nothing was started for supper. Then Joe walked in and 30 minutes later we were sitting down to a wonderful send-off meal. And, as if that wasn’t enough on the Wow Scale, he — with a lot of help from my sister Nancy — has rescued and fed and loved dozens of cats over the years — oh, and then there’s feeding the birds and warming their birdbath water in the winter and even loving the ugly possum who makes a home somewhere in that backyard. I am so impressed by this guy.

He truly can grow anything, anywhere, anyhow. If he tosses seeds in the ground they’ll grow — unlike many of my efforts over the years. He’ll plant pumpkins and gourds outside the fence so they can spread and have a chance to get huge for the fall. I don’t know how many he actually reaps since sometimes neighbors help themselves which I think is pretty mean.

This year, he and his birds outdid themselves with sunflowers. One year I was home and he had a perfect line of sunflowers growing on either side of the walk down the backyard. I thought the birds just had a real sense of design and dropped them one-by-one to create the effect. Joe thought that I really didn’t know anything about birds. He had planted them that way. It was beautiful. This year he changed his design and used sunflowers to camouflage that ugly cement wall that a business next door put up. These sunflowers are pretty spectacular — or, at least, I think they are.


Joe with his Sunflowers

Joe with his Sunflowers