Monday, May 7, 2012


“Plant On!”

When I think of chickens, I think of my departed, and very happily remembered father. He once told my husband, “that being married to a Brown woman was like being pecked to death by a flock of chickens.” I couldn’t agree more, but somehow I don’t think this pertained to only the women in my family. I also remember my dad’s 6’ 3 ½” gangly body dancing around doing the chicken dance. Lastly, I remember making fun of his long skinny chicken legs, until one day while sitting out in the lawn together, I vividly remembered looking over at him and having the realization that I had the same exact bone structure. Chicken legs and all, there is no denying where I acquired my passion for gardening.

My grandmother had a farm which included cows, and a couple of chicken coups. I, admittedly, was terrified of the chickens. I didn’t mind feeding them, but I was terrified when I was asked to gather the eggs and was occasionally forced to remove an egg from underneath one. I never liked going into the chicken coups either. The coups seemed like they were the perfect hiding place for snakes. Yes, this gardener is terrified of snakes. This week I have seen several pictures of snakes on various Facebook garden pages informing everyone that they are out there. I’ve seen my usual share, mostly rat snakes, and I know they have a significant purpose. I just don’t like the occasional surprise, and I am somewhat cautious when moving my containers.

This week I allowed a reporter from our local newspaper to interview me for an article on accessibility within the region, and I very openly answered many personal questions regarding my life with a spinal cord injury. Many people would actually be quite surprised to hear that I detest conflict, and I hate speaking publicly. I’d much rather write. I do know that when I do have to speak, I generally overcome any anxiety because I know that I will be talking about something that I am very passionate about, and that what I do will improve the lives of all. Even the same people who opposed me 20 years ago, and are now the aging baby boomers. Irony at its best!

When I encounter inaccessible places this day and age, I do take it personal. The bottom line is that equal access is a Civil Right, and it is one that we are still fighting for. Years ago, people with disabilities felt the overwhelming responsibility of being what we use to call the “ADA police”. Where I live, it is unfortunately still that way. I can’t understand how anything new can be built, i.e. a huge performing arts center, an internationally known tennis facility, all without line of sight viewing, integrated seating, and/or other non-discriminatory policies. I am surrounded by political leaders that oppose enforcement, and initiate bills that would defeat the law’s purpose. We have a Governor who initiates statewide policies that openly discriminate. How sad is that? Yet, I keep at it. I seriously look forward to the day that I no longer have a job!

My son recently posted the link to my Access to the Garden page on his Facebook page encouraging anyone interested in gardening, to check out his mom’s page and blog. My sister also commented that anyone seeking inspiration, regardless of their interest in gardening or not, should check it out too. Both comments were flattering, and made me realize that my blog has a much larger appeal than what I initially realized.

The most important thing is that I’m doing this because I really enjoy it. As long as I garden, and I travel to public gardens, I will have something to say. I cover all areas from gardening with a disability, to access, to aging, to dealing with hormonal mood swings, tool and plant selection, the benefits of horticultural therapy, and the general overall passion of getting one’s hands dirty. I don’t consider what I do to be remarkable, but if I can inspire anyone to do anything then I am content. If I can inspire anyone to look beyond themselves, I’m ecstatic.

I use organic fertilizers in my garden. Chicken poop is my favorite. Maybe it’s my way at getting back at my neighbors who don’t appreciate my uniqueness. The interviewer asked me if I could change anything in my life, would I? Most definitely, but I don’t sit around asking “Why me, lord?” My answer is always, “Why not me?” I’m appreciative of every breath that I take, and if I don’t like something in my garden or in my life, I will make every effort to change it. Some days I love my garden, and other days I hate it. That’s life. Today, I am loving it!

If you can’t get to the garden, there is no reason why you can’t bring the garden to you. My raised beds are in the perfect location on my back porch. I also have some containers out there too. If you have neighborhood covenants that are so restrictive about having vegetable gardens and sustainability, then squeeze vegetable plants and herbs into your existing landscape. I can almost guarantee you that most people won’t know the difference.

At the end of my interview, I gave the Reporter a tour of my garden and talked about Access to the Garden. She said that as soon as I was out there and talking about my plants, my whole personal demeanor changed instantly. Granted I had just relived the most stressful moments of the last 28 years of my life, my garden obviously reflects a lot of well spent therapy time. Plant on!

I find it interesting that this week I have chosen to talk about snakes, politicians, and chicken poop all in the same blog. All I can say is that there is a whole lot of undisclosed meaning behind that. I brought up my father and grandmother, even though we didn’t always agree, because they were where I acquired my strong moral backbone from. I wish more people would find the strength within themselves to say when something is morally wrong when they know within their hearts that it is. In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for what’s right. When things get intense, I have my garden to retreat to.


  1. I love that Jodie is in one of the last pics. Great article mamma. I really liked reading it. You're an amazing woman....and I seriously mean that. You bring inspiration to many. And you're the best damned source of advice in the world. I love you.

  2. great article mamma! i loved reading it. you're an inspiration to many and a wonderful source of advice. I LOVE YOU. Also, the pictures were awesome...especially Jodie girl hanging out in the yard.

  3. You are remarkable, and not just saying this because you're my sis! I loved this most recent post speaking of our father and grandma. Both were so influential in our lives and will live on in us and in our future generations. Love you. WRITE ON! and this thing with planting, keep doing that too! I love how happy it makes you!

  4. You are remarkable and I am not just saying this because you're my sis! Your post brings back so many cherished memories - time spent with Grandma feeding chickens and gathering eggs under protective hens (Admittedly I was a afraid too--could say I was chicken!) Dad and Grandma were so influential in our lives, and have impacted generations to come. WRITE ON, sis! and that planting thing you do so well - PLANT ON, but especially___WRITE ON! Love it! Love you!

  5. I LOVE the beautiful pics!! Thank you for being an advocate for the handicapped! I have Transverse Myelitis @ T-7. I was 41 when it knocked me down. I am now 50...but claim to be thirty with a few anniversaries of my birthday!! I have a "pot garden" and love to tend it!! I use a rollator for short distances. My kids have become the BEST ADA police!! Thank you SOOOO much!!!! i hope its ok, i added your site to my faves bar and will check it often. If you want to check out my FB pics of my pot garden, i posted some just yesterday.

  6. Ginger, thank you! Can you LIKE my Facebook Page, Access to the Garden. I would love to see your pictures!