My Dad’s Garden

By Janice Schaub | July 15, 2015
Image by Janice Schaub
by Janice Schaub
July 15, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Gardening Know How’s weekly guest blog! This week’s guest blogger is Janice Schaub who has penned a heartwarming retrospective on her father and his passion for gardening.  If you enjoy this blog post, be sure to connect with Janice on her blog My Garden Journal.

And – remember to tune in every Wednesday to get another unique perspective on gardening!


I worry about trying to keep the kids from wrecking my garden. Then I realized, my Dad had a nice garden. I never wrecked it. I was able to respect the work he did, and the pride he had in his gardens.

When we moved into the house on Bidwell Hill, I was about 4 years old. The garden was a wilderness when we moved in. The back was all Gooseberry bushes and the front was brambles. He changed all that into flower gardens. I don’t have great pictures but will share what I have.

JaniceSchaub1 As you see, the garden is full of color. Maybe the washing lines spoil the view but, well, that was a part of life back then. I think it’s because it’s England that he was able to have color all the time. There was always something in bloom. Things did not just bloom once and that was it, they seemed to be in bloom all summer. Then again, the growing season was longer than here in Michigan. He loved gardening.  In his spare time he would work for others for some extra spending money. My kids enjoyed the lawn and the time spent with Granddad.

At the other end of the back garden he built a garage, such as it is, but it is still standing and still being used.

He also had a garden shed. On the garden side of the shed he grew some Japanese Quince, beautiful in flower. He had an apple tree that he espaliered. He showed me how to manipulate the tree when young so that it grew that way, flat. He also showed me how to graft roses. When I was quite young I asked for my own garden. He gladly dug up a stretch by a fence and gave me stuff to put in it. Of course I didn’t keep it up as well as I should so he often was caught weeding and eventually took it over and it all became a part of the back garden.
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My daughter Laura enjoyed the garden but has not inherited an interest in gardening.
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The front garden he set in crazy paving when he wanted to start a rose garden. There were two Beech trees and the garden was surrounded by Privet Hedges that he shaped. I dream of them because I would find birds nests in them. I dream I am looking for nests when in my dream I go home. Here is Laura out in the front putting bird seeds in Harry’s Folly. He built that himself. We were never really sure what it was intended to be but it became a bird feeder. Water would not stay in it so if he thought of it as a bird bath, that didn’t happen. It has to be very early spring in the picture because there are no roses in sight.
JaniceSchaub8 The side of the house (it was a semi detached) was the entrance to the back of the house. He trained a bush to grow in an archway and a gate went below. You will see many things in my garden that I have done to remember my old home. My parents both lived there until they died. Dad had been a POW in Japan and died at age 68 followed by Mum who lived to be 71.

The side of the house in full summer was covered in Honeysuckle and smelled divine. The front was covered in Forsythia that looked brilliant in the spring.  One spring the Sparrows nested right under Dad’s bedroom window. Because they always kept the windows open the noise got on his nerves, haha………well he cut down all that lovely Forsythia so that he never had to deal with noisy Sparrows the next nesting season. I was sad because it was so pretty and lush once the blooms had gone. 
The picture below is my husband and my son Jason. We stayed with my parents before we left for the States. I had lived there until I married.
JaniceSchaub10 So many things in my garden remind me of home. I just wish the soil was better and that I had more time and more to work with. I do not like the heat and winter is almost 6 months here. So my possibilities are limited by the climate. I am still trying to grow roses. Dad’s roses were for a time his pride and joy. Two other men on Bidwell Hill were avid gardeners – Mr. Miller and Mr. Mole. They would walk on by and look over the hedge to see how dad’s roses were doing. Mr Miller lived further down and around the corner so for my Dad to see Mr. Miller’s roses he had to take the dog for a walk. Mr. Miller was more fortunate because he had to walk by to go down to the village. Mr Mole lived across the road so he could see easy enough. When Mr Green the milkman brought around his horse and cart to sell his vegetables, there were at least those 3 men watching from behind lace curtains and ready with a shovel……you can imagine why (horse manure – good for roses).

My Dad gave me a love of gardens, of flowers, birds and wildlife among many other things. I hope he is a gardener in heaven.

For more blogs by Janice Schaub visit her website My Garden Journal.


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