Connecting Family Memories to Gardening

WELCOME to the 2014  #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Inspired By My Pinterest Boards:  This Year’s Category is GARDENING


Sikorski Clematis

Introducing my guest,  John Viccellio, Master Gardener, author and friend, who tells us about the Family connections in his garden. Visit him at

Blogging opens a new writing form for me. My blog is not a diary, but it is about me. It is not a garden journal, but it is about gardening. Writing in this new medium gives me the opportunity to share observations, reactions, and reflections, not just to record what happened. When I reflect on my gardens, it evokes memories of my family and the influence they have had on the joy I experience from gardening. It covers five generations…from grandmother to grandchildren.

My Grandma’s sweetheart rose, one I remember from boyhood, came to me from a cutting from Aunt Martha. She gave me vitex cuttings and a dozen English boxwood that were started by Grandma by breaking off a piece and sticking in the ground. Treasures are Leucojum aestivum bulbs, offsets from ones that were given to Grandma by her grandmother. Most of my peonies had their origin at Grandma’s. I have several finials from a picket fence at her house that I have used in topping clematis posts.  We have a picture of my Dad in front of that fence, over 100 years ago.

As I’ve grown older, I have enlisted the aid of my grandchildren to help with the heavy work in my garden. I have recorded my hopes for them in Guess What’s in My Garden!. I concluded a chapter on “Slowing Down” with these words: “My dream is that one day, when my grandson is in his seventies, he will tell his grandson, ‘This is the way Granddaddy taught me how to prune the roses.'”



Photos by John S. Viccellio in his Charlotte, NC Garden

Thank you John for being my guest and friend

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in AtoZ Blog Challenge -April 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Connecting Family Memories to Gardening

  1. johnvic8 says:

    Many thanks, Stepheny, for letting me be your guest. John

  2. What a lovely family tradition! We’ve done this in a very small way with lilacs, but I hope to expand on that.

  3. John is fortunate isn’t he, to have these treasures from past family gardens. I remember my parents garden well, but alas, it is only a memory now. Come back and visit again when you can.

  4. Chrys Fey says:

    I love the idea of family connections in a garden. When I can create my magnificent garden, I’m going to try to add pieces of my family, like the ceramic flower pot my mom got from Japan and Tulips which are her favorite flowers. I’ll also try to find a way to include my grandmother’s presence. 🙂

  5. I love it! There’s not much better than a family legacy. I was particularly sad this weekend because I was missing my family who all live 2500 miles away. It’s our fault, we moved away, but with the way communication has gone… Sometimes digital connections just aren’t good enough, you know?

  6. Awww this is a fantastic family tradition to have. Love it 😉

  7. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! Every spring I say I’m going to plant flowers, and I do. Then they die 😦 I do not have a green thumb. lol. I should say that my husband planted roses for me one year on Mother’s Day. I’m proud to say I haven’t killed them. They come back every year, and I love them! It has now become some what of a tradition to plant a new rose bush every year now. Great challenge topic!

    • Hope you will have time to come back and stroll through other gardens and related topics this month. I love roses and hope yours are putting out new growth already in this late spring. (Here in NC anyway)

  8. This is very sweet. It’s very different and yet very cool to have gardening as a family tradition to pass down. I’m not personally one for it, but my mom loves gardening.

    Happy A-to-Z-ing!

    • One day down the road you will plant a pot for the front door and then another and another. You will look at your Mom’s gardening books with a new eye. Thee may be a garden in your future when it suits who you have become and where you are.

  9. nickielson1 says:

    Oh how cool to have plants in your garden that have spanned generations! I have something we call “crazy lillies” from my grandma’s house and I think of her every time those pink blooms burst open.

  10. stephie5741 says:

    I think it’s wonderful that your family can work together in the garden. What a great bonding experience.

  11. lindacovella says:

    What a lovely post. My grandfather was an avid gardener in Ohio. He’d visit us in California each winter and we couldn’t wait for his veggies he canned himself! I wish I’d been closer to see the actual garden.

  12. yaykisspurr says:

    Love, love, love how he includes his grandchildren in his gardening! That’s how to pass on a love to the younger generation. Cheers. 🙂

  13. A.K. Morgen says:

    Great post! Some of my earliest memories were of working in my grandparents’ garden. The entire family would get together to can and make jams… it was a lot of fun. Of course, my grandfather was sneaky, and he’d pay me and my sister a quarter for every bushel of beans we picked for him. After falling for that two years in a row, we wizened up.

    • I am lucky to have a friend like John who has taught me a lot about gardening over the years of our friendship. He has wonderful stories to tell about those who gardened before him. Come back if you can.

  14. pbmgarden says:

    Enjoyed reading about your pass-along treasures John. Stepheny, your A-Z posts are so fun.

  15. Lovely! Thanks for sharing.


  16. Gail M Baugniet says:

    Thanks, Stepheny and John. I envy anyone who can grow a flower garden. I was fairly successful with my vegetable gardens. But other than roses, I have a brown thumb. Where I live now, I just take a walk when I want to see flowers! Aloha
    Gail visiting for AtoZ Tuesday is G for Gyrating Hips and Blue Suede Shoes

    • You live in such a healing place. The fragrance that hangs in the air is something I return to in my mind when I need a quiet moment of breathing in and out, letting go, restoration. Next time you take a walk, take me along in spirit. We’ll get acquainted and talk about writing and gardens.

  17. Kristen says:

    My mother has always loved having a beautiful garden, including many food plants. I have learned so much from her, but the thing that always stood out was how yellow was her favorite color. Yellow was never a favorite color for me, but I always enjoy having it around now because of her, and because of the happiness of it.

    Random Musings from the KristenHead — F is for ‘Fringe’ and ‘Firefly’: First-class Sci-fi Shows

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