Gail and I were joined last week by an adorably snarky representative from Generation Y who maybe just might definitely be a gardener. Lila is a senior at Barrington High School. Her parents have a vegetable garden that keeps the family out of the produce aisle and she volunteered (of her own volition) with the Deadheads last summer. Gail and I got such a kick out of Lila that we encouraged her to come up with a senior project that would bring her back to the greenhouse this winter. Lila’s thesis goes like this: “The genetic modification of plants presents hazards to ecology and human health that outweigh the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.” For her field work, she brought in Arabidopsis seeds to test Mendel’s Laws – which in turn test my memory of high school and college biology. (Mendel is the one who said – in a nutshell – we carry dominant and recessive traits in our genes and pass a set of those traits to offspring in a ratio of 3:1) And Lila learned “old fashioned” plant propagation techniques from her project mentor, Gail.
One thing that I (as project photographer and nosey parker) noticed while working with Lila was that here was a teenager who, although she plans on studying environmental biology (or something else smart sounding) rather than horticulture, had some serious opinions about gardens and plants. (Seriously wacky opinions but I’ll get to that in a minute.) For all I’ve heard about gardening being a dying trend, I wonder – what about all the children of gardeners? Don’t you credit a parent or grandparent for teaching you -probably by example- to love gardening? My mother took over in our garden where my great-grandfather left off. As a kid, I was pretty disinterested in that garden aside from jumping in leaf piles and climbing Grampy’s trees but I have clear memories of my Mom planting flats of annuals and chewing parsley as she weeded. It wasn’t until college that I realized I inherited their gardening gene. (Maybe the love-to-garden allele is dominant and follows Mendel’s First Law)
While Lila worked on her project, Gail and I finalized the seed orders and discussed the gardens. And Lila chimed in. We may have to thank her for a new a new accent color on the cobalt chair and bench and she thinks we should have orange zinnias in the garden again and is dead-against ornamental vegetables (like our favorites Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ and ‘Bull’s Blood’ beets) in a mixed garden. “Vegetables are for eating – not looking at!”, she said with conviction. Apparently it’s ok for a few flowers to prettify the vegetable garden though… Gail and I are secretly proud of her opinions and have no intention of following some of her advice.