In Memory of a Gardener

We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we shared a great love of gardening none-the-less. We enjoyed showing each other our latest successes and preparing the fruits of our labor to share with friends and family.

My father-in-law passed away this year and he will be greatly missed by the large loving family he created, of which I am honored to be a part. His love of gardening was an important memory for his kids and grandkids, as we shared thoughts and memories together, after he was gone.

Frank Souza's Garden

Frank Souza Sr in his garden (family photo)

He and I shared a love of experimentation – what will happen if I do this (or don’t do that)? He might let his kale plants reach tree-like heights by only harvesting the lowest leaves or letting poppies take over the garden in a particular year. He had fun creating espaliered trees, from scratch, after a trip to Jefferson’s Monticello and the ones he made probably influenced my use of espaliers in my designs as well as in my own garden.

Where we differed was in our need for neatness, with that virtue being paramount in his garden but often being sacrificed, in my mine, for the sake of greater ease or seasonal priorities. The area where we had the most differences was in the use of water. My garden is an ongoing experiment in how little can be used to just get by. But hand watering with a hose was an act of meditation and active love for him and he would have probably described it as his favorite garden activity.

Frank Souza's garden

Edibles and flowers in Franks garden (family photo)

As the child of Portuguese immigrants, from the island of Madeira, his garden was always an example of providing both food for the table and beauty for the soul. He combined perennial fruits, annual vegetables and colorful flowers in a happy blend that was the classic cottage style and the fore-runner of the current trend for edible gardening. When I eat a Monterey pear , a yellow plum or a Fava bean, I will think of him.

Garden Pear Tree

Garden Pear Tree

He is fondly remembered for his youthful energy, his love of sports and his many “philosophies”.  A few of the lessons to be learned from his example would be; work hard, be sure you can cook, if you see a door…find out what’s beyond it and dance every chance you get.

For his final farewell, his children chose a quote that says it well;

     From the earth we are born,

     To the earth we return,

                   …and in between we garden.

Frank Souza

Frank Souza 1925-2012

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Categories: Garden Inspiration


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One Comment on “In Memory of a Gardener”

  1. laurie k
    December 31, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Such a beautiful, loving tribute, filled with wonderful gardening memories to hold dear. So sorry for your family’s loss.

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