I like to grow a garden, both figuratively and literally speaking. My earliest childhood memories are those of the light in the garden lying under the apple tree on a sunny day, light winks at me through tender spring leaves taking on a life of it’s own. My grandmother had a green thumb; her spectacular tulips growing on both sides of a narrow walkway to our small summer cottage, an hour away from Moscow, were envy of our neighbors. It was my chore to help collect black currant so my mother and grandmother used whatever did not make it to my tummy to make sweet preserves for winter. I think I was five at a time. Some years later when my grandmother died and the little cottage was sold, my mother and I took cuttings from some of my favorite plants and planted them in our new country place, not nearly as scenic as my grandmother’s. Never the less every spring when jasmine and pink peonies would blossom we remembered our grandmother’s magic garden.

For the last fifteen years I am the proud owner of six acres on top of a hill with 360-degree views and I am taking my journey to grow the garden to the next level! I started with roses …little did I know! I went to the Rose Emporium and purchased many beautiful local varieties of roses. In the first spring after I planted them I awoke one morning to find deer brutally ate all my beautiful buds. Then… we installed a fence around my backyard and we entered phase two. Then… a sprinkler system, then deep root fertilization, then I became a queen of compost… then there went my retirement funds…and now, many years later I’ve got beautiful Belinda Dream and Madam D’Acere showing off their pinkish red sophisticated beauty. My grandmother would be proud of me…

This year I have undertaken a new adventure – olive trees. I have a dream of creating an olive garden on the steep slopes in our Texas Hill Country home and call it Villa D’Oliva just like in Tuscany.  I took a trip to Sandy Oaks Farms, south of San Antonio and met Saundra Winokur herself. She has a bigger dream than mine. She wants to turn the entire state of Texas into the Olive Capital of the World. I found out there are a quite a few varieties of trees that do very well in limestone, heat, poor soil and an occasional freeze. Sandy takes growing a garden both figuratively and literally just like I do. It was an honor to meet her and see her dream come true as she proudly lead the tour of her olive farm, her dream and vision in the making. One day I will be able to contribute my olives to her vision. Sandy has a green thumb just like my grandmother did.

My grandmother and my mother before me grew kids, dogs, plants, family, relationships and not on six acres of spectacular hill country and not in prosperous America. My grandmother saved the family from starvation during the Second World War by knocking on people’s houses and offering to fix their clothes in exchange for food. My mother, now in her eighties, still lives for my brother, our children, and myself. She has no idea how to live for herself. Both women in my family gave, gave and gave more and this is what I know and this is what I do. Every spring I see the results of my love and determination all around me and I am going to continue for as long as I am alive. To grow a Garden and grow together with it, both literary and figuratively speaking became my life journey. I am a third generation of Gardeners; I am a Gardener for life.