It’s been really nice to have my Aunt Debra in North Carolina as one of my blog readers. She’s always had a gorgeous yard (I’ve always loved the NC pine needles as mulch thing!), and she’s shared lots of great stories about my grandparents since she learned that I’m a gardener now. I unfortunately never got the chance to meet my Grandaddy Batts, a career Navy man. I lost my Granny Batts to Alzheimer’s when I was in 9th grade.


Grandaddy Batts and Granny on his last day in the Navy

My dad’s side of the family is fun for me, because I have lots of cousins my age. Actually, 4 of us were all born within a few months of each other in the summer of 1983 – my Granny always said it must have been one cold winter 🙂


Aunt Deb, my (beautiful!) mommy, Aunt Tereca, Aunt Kathy

1983 babies

I'm the big fatty!

So anyway…Aunt Deb has been sharing garden stories with me, and I love it! Since I lost all of my grandparents young, I love hearing the stories about them that I missed when I was younger and not concerned with it.

Over email, I was talking with her about “heirloom plants” – ones that have been passed down from family members over the years. I have some lemon balm that belonged to my Mom Mom (my mother’s mother). I remember she had it planted by their garden shed, and I used to love to pick leaves from it and crush them between my fingers to smell the lemon. I thought it was such a cool plant, and was glad that my mom had some of it still that she could share with me. I also have lots of daylilies from my mom and several irises that came from a friend of my mom’s who recently passed away.

I also have some Lily of the Valley that came from my Granny. My mom and aunt both have some of this. I’ve tried to take seedlings of the cypress vine/hummingbird plant that belonged to her as well – but mine never seem to work! (I’m going to try to start it from seed this year.) My mom has shared seedlings of that plant with her sister though, so it’s a cross-family plant!

Apparently my Grandaddy was a gardener. My aunt shared:

“Your Granddaddy Batts loved a good garden and would be so proud that you are planting “veggies”. He would be very impressed and would say, “pretty work”. I may have told you before that I used to think it so strange when a rain would come along and he would open the den door and sit a lawn chair in the doorway, beer in hand, and watch it rain. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized he was doing this after a really dry spell and I guess it was so refreshing to watch the earth come back to life. I guess he was “watching his garden grow”.

I’m glad to keep the green thumb going. My Mom Mom and Pop Pop were both gardeners (I’ll have to share some stories about them as well), so I think of them a lot when I’m in the garden.

Aunt Deb shared this story about a Gardenia when I was having trouble with having pruned mine at the wrong time last year. (With her wonderful dog Scout, who we lost last year, pictured – click to see it bigger.)


My great grandmother's gardenia at my aunt's house

Aunt Paulette [my dad’s eldest sister] was here one summer and we went over to visit an aunt and decided to go by our Mom’s homeplace. This would have been your Great-Granny Smith. It is very overgrown there but we talked about the gardenia bushes that Granny had close to her living room window so that it would smell good coming in the house on a summer day.  We crawled all around just to check and see if it could possibly still be there.  Lo, and behold, there was a sprig of it still there.  The ground was very, very dry and we did not have anything to dig it up with.  We found a little stick and starting trying to dig.  Their roots are pretty much on top of the ground; another reason I was surprised that it was still living since the ground was so dry.  Anyway, we got the sprig up and I planted it close to my back door.  And it has flourished!  It did not bloom much last year, but I had cut it way back at one point.  I’m sure you have learned and could tell me a thing or two about when trimming a flowering bush back that you usually cut off the blooms for the next season.  Anyway, I hope it will bloom better next summer.  It smells good enough to eat!!  And it reminds me of being at my Granny’s. My sweet Scout used to love to lay under this bush on a really hot day.  It was close to the house and the pine straw kept the soil cool.  She would dig around it a bit and take a good nap.  The stuff in front is lemon balm. [Hey! Lemon balm!]

Hopefully I will get a chance to visit the NC family this summer. With all of us grown up now, we just don’t get down there as often as we’d like. I also want to meet Aunt Deb’s new puppy, Joy, who was recently named “Pet of the Week” at the prestigious local newspaper, compliments of the adorable photo below!



Thanks so much for sharing, Aunt Deb! Sending some “sugar” your way 🙂