Colleen Plimpton is one of those fortunate people who is smart enough to learn from all the people – and sometimes the animals – who come into her life. In her charming, conversational book, Mentors in the Garden of Life, she tells us about relatives like Aunt Louise and friends like Kathleen, and expert gardeners like Sydney Eddison who have been important to her in life, and in her garden. Each vignette that captures a personality and time ends with information about a particular plant: lilacs, sugar maples, cauliflower, lady’s mantle, daylily and 26 others.
I particularly liked the chapter about her mother, Dorothy Kennett Plimpton. “The entire household knew that for Mother, after slap-dash caring for four kids and dinners of Chef Boyardee, but before housework, came reading. There was no time whatsoever for the yard.” I totally identified with Dorothy even though I gave five kids slap-dash care (ask the nice woman who picked up my four year old happily wandering the streets of West Hartford or my neighbor tsking as they all tumbled out their bedroom window instead of taking their naps) and putting housework at the bottom of my to do list.
I do part ways with her because it was the dandelions (which I love) in her lawn that set Dorothy off. They distracted her when she wanted to read while sitting on the lawn. “She didn’t care all that much about a clean house, but a spotless lawn; that was another matter entirely.” So began Colleen’s career as dandelion weeder, spurred on by the thought of a nickel for every hundred blossoms. The dandelions connect Colleen to her happy childhood memories, but better than weeding dandelions she writes that “I recall the dandelion days with Mother, when thanks to her, my love of reading bloomed . . ..”
I am a reader as much as a gardener, so I found this book to be a real treasure. It is so beautifully written and so engaging with lots of conversations, that it is hard not to think of all the people who have been important in my own life – and not only in the garden. You will soon be hearing more about Colleen here.
Who has been a mentor in your life?
Mentors in the Garden of Life by Colleen Plimpton is available at Amazon.