Brin George in his garden, Windsor, Ontario, 1978. Original photograph. Privately held by Kathryn HoganUE, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Windsor, Ontario. 2005.
Quite a few of my ancestors were farmers or agricultural labourers who made their living from working the land. However, the ancestor I best remember as the master gardener in the family was not a farmer by trade. My grandfather, Brin George was a carpenter, and enjoyed gardening as a hobby.
In the small backyard of the yellow brick house at 422 Foch Avenue was a large maple tree. The tree was planted the spring of 1946. By the time I was a child it was very tall. In order to keep the branches and leaves from interfering with the hydro wires overhead, Grandpa George would have to regularly trim the tree. He found the best way was to shape the tree into a pillbox. Even when Grandpa was in his eighties, he would climb up the tree, wedge a board between the limbs, and stand on the board up through the middle of the tree. Then, with a large pair of wooden-handled, metal pruning shears in-hand he would trim the leaves and branches while the hydro wires dangerously dangled overhead. He never once got zapped!
I remember Grandpa once won a $100 prize in a gardening/landscaping contest for the way he trimmed the tree. What did he do with the prize money? He bought more plants for his garden, of course.
I think Grandpa George was most proud of his beefsteak tomatoes. He had quite the green thumb. I remember how big these tomotoes would grow! They tasted great. Grandpa's garden included other vegetables but also many flowers such as lupins, snap dragons, pansies, and tea roses growing on the arbour in the backyard, and on the trellis on the veranda in the front yard.
It's Grandpa George's birthday today. I think I'll have a toasted tomato sandwich for lunch in honour of the man who was my family's master gardener.
Copyright 2014 by Kathryn Lake Hogan, UE.