Jo Ann Jaacks: Roses on the lawn, Flowers on the balcony

Jo Ann's flowers

Jo Ann's flowers

Jo Ann Jaacks

I grew up on a subsistence farm in a small, rustic Connecticut town. In addition to the crops my father and abutting grandfather grew, my mother, just like my grandmother, always had flowers in the spring: gladiolas, roses, pansies. They weren’t edible, but they brought some color and joy to the toughness of farm life.

At my homes in South Florida, growing flowers and plants was more of a chore — keeping them from growing too fast and too large. If you put it in the ground, it would easily expand and require pruning, and an underground watering system that erupted when you least expected it.

When I returned to Connecticut, my husband and I put up a lengthy little fence in the backyard for a vegetable garden. At one point, he had lived on a farm in Germany as a child, after the family apartment was bombed in World War 11. Since our backyard was surrounded on three sides by forest, we soon had visitors munching on our cabbage and carrots and pulling the sugar snap peas off their trellis. My husband circled the little vegetables with wiring to protect them. Then the bear came and destroyed everything. I decided to focus on flower gardens in the front yard.

When I recently moved to an 1800s era home in Litchfield, I hoped to grow my own flowers. A friend gave me the idea to try container gardening since I have a wraparound balcony and several large windows that overlook it. I bought plants that came with their own soil and plopped them into terracotta pots. I thought, what could be easier. Then, we had weather warnings of high winds and a possible tornado. By then I had 20 pots of all sizes. I rushed to bring them all into the kitchen. The spring brought several other weather warnings, and my cat eventually got used to the indoor flowers and stopped trying to push them over.

It was only very recently that, after contacting my two sisters to share their memories of our mother’s gardens, I learned it was actually my father who planted the flowers for her. Now I have a sweet memory when I view my own flora. I think I need 20 more.