Kitty and Gere's heirloom garden

kittysgardenJune 8, 2006

Gere's garden was established in 1945 by my mother, Kitty, as she coped with the tragic death of my parent's only child, a 7 year old son. Gere was hit by a truck, while riding on the handle bars of his friend's bike,and killed. He died in my father's arms.

After his death my mother transformed barren woods into an exquisite garden viewed by thousands of people from all walks of life and from many areas of the U.S. and other countries. Her garden was the chosen scene for hundreds of prom, wedding, graduation, Easter, Christmas, and any ocassion pictures. She lovingly and generously shared seeds, plants,shrubbery,cuttings, cut flowers, food and drinks, conversation, education and her stories of gardening with everyone who visited her including school children on field trips, Florida Master gardeners,the elderly from Dowling Park,visitors to town, etc. Her garden was featured on T.V. gardening programs from Jacksonville, Florida;in multiple newspapers and magazines.

Growing up in this beauty was very inspirational and enjoyable for me as a child. I was born almost one year after my brother's death. I learned to start new plants and enjoy their growth and beauty.

My mother passed away in March of 2005 just months short of her 90th birthday. In 2001,I took an early retirement from teaching school in Tallahassee, Florida to care for her and my currently 92 yr. old father in their home. They had been married 69 years and lived in the same house which had been remodeled over the years.

The tragedy I am facing now is keeping and maintaining this 70 year old heirloom garden loved and enjoyed by so many people all these years. During last years three hurricanes a 100 year old oak tree fell through three rooms of my parents home and damaged many of my mother's plants in the back garden area. We are just now getting the house repairs complete.

Over the years my mother dedicated her life to Gere's garden. She hardly ever went on vacations. From daylight to dark, in 8 degree to 100+plus degree weather she persevered to care for this lovely show place for everyone to enjoy.

Sadly my parents resources have been used up due to $70,000 a year caregiver costs for their 24 hour care in their home the past 6-8 years.

My parents gave so much of themselves to their community, state and nation and now no one seems to care about them.My father established the Florida Sherrif's Boys Ranch, the Stephen Foster Folk Festival, etc. He is in the National Jaycee Hall of Fame for all his wonderful volunteer work. No one locally seems to care about saving my mother's garden or their lovely home. My parents always gave to everyone and now when they need help where is help for them?

I am very sad now with our depleted resources struggling in my tiny north Florida hometown to maintain mother's heirloom garden.

I sometimes wonder if all her life's work was in vain. Why doesn't anyone care? The baby boomer and younger generations in this small town appear to be so focused on greed and money and themselves they don't care what happens to Kitty and Gere's garden. Not one person has even said "can I come help you water". Why? Has our country turned their backs on the elderly and all they dedicated their lives to?

In the 30's my father, the youngest clerk of the circuit court in the nation at the time, met with the Governor of Florida to help all the people(farmers, judges, etc.) save their homes and land. The same thing is happening now in my hometown due to rising property values. Where is someone to help my father save his home and land with this lovely heirloom garden?? My parents were honest, dedicated, Christian people who worked hard for all they had and gave much of it back to their community. This same community doesn't seem to care.

I keep praying but no one has come forward. Surely someone can help.

Jill

Only child and daughter

former 26 yr. veteran teacher of mentally, physically, emotionally challenged students; hospital/homebound students in the county k-12 grade; at-risk pregnant teens and teen parents; 9-12th grade life management teacher prior to retirement to focus on caring for my elderly parents

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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

If what you say is true, it is indeed sad but truthfully I am always leery of people who pop in to a board and their very first post...( I notice you joined today) is a long sob story about the need for monies....Many of us have been stung for opening our wallets...my suggestion would be to go to your city council or the wildlife people in your own town and see if they can help you or point you in the right direction..

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 4:15PM
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gene_washdc(zone 5a)

Jill,
You might want to consider donating the property to a local garden club with the aggreement that they keep up the garden.

As painful as it may be, realize that this was your mother's garden, not yours. Your mother has moved on, and perhaps the garden is not meant to remain behind. Her death is forcing you to let go of her, it may be time to let go of this too. The impulse to want to hang on to something of which your mother thought so highly is a natural reaction, it seems to allow you to hang on to her a little longer. In the end you'll need to make it your garden (and smaller, more manageable?) or let it go.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 1:15PM
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Auntie_Clara(z5 NE)

I would not give up on this garden. I would contact your local paper and see if they would do a human interest story about this wonderful piece of ground. There are probably even stories of her garden in their archives. Perhaps a story about your desire to restore the garden would elicit volunteers to help. Church groups might be able to help. I think help would be best from your local area. You might just be surprised with who might be interested in helping out there. You just need to get your story to the right audience. Good luck and please don't lose heart.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 11:34PM
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ginny12

This same post appeared on the same date on the Garden Restoration forum. A number of people offered helpful suggestions but the original poster has never replied, as here.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 1:52PM
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