Gardens in the Family

Both Grandma Leora Wilson and Grandma Ruby Neal enjoyed gardening.

Grandma Ruby’s was along the east side of house on the farm near Dexter. She grew both vegetables and flowers, saving certain seeds, swapping them with relatives and friends. Once she gave me seed pods for Love in a Mist. Another time she shared Money Plant seeds. Mine didn’t turn out as well as hers, but they were fun to experiment with.

Both grandmothers kept many houseplants in their basements during the winter, then carried them outside during nice weather. Here’s a story about Grandma Ruby’s barrel cactus.

Grandma Leora had big vegetable gardens at Dexter and at Minburn, with help from everyone in the family. When she was widowed and moved to Guthrie Center, she chose trees and shrubs for the new little house and started a bed of vegetables. She added flowers and joined the Guthrie Center Garden Club. Even though she died in 1987, people remark about her beautiful flowers to this day.

Grandma Leora’s front gardens in Guthrie Center, even vines in the window box. There was another larger garden in the back yard.

We always had a garden plot, just outside the kitchen window on the farm. After she was widowed, her garden began to include as many flowers as vegetables.

Still going through boxes of her papers, I found two notes from a neighbor who lives a couple of miles up the gravel road. “Thank you for all the beauty you share with us,” she wrote. The other, from 2003, “Thank you for making a garden of beauty for all to enjoy. I often tell people to drive by Doris Neal’s – view the flowers.”

How nice of Lila to take the time to write the notes, which have become part of my mother’s keepsakes, reminding me again of her yucca and day lilies and pink peonies.

Mom with blooming yucca and a few of her many day lilies, 1999
Mom, Grandma Leora, and Aunt Darlene gathered their spring flowers every year to take to the cemeteries in Guthrie Center and Perry for Memorial Day.



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