Monday, April 14, 2014

My Dad the Orchid Gardener

He used to be a self-employed business owner. During my childhood he was also a volunteer fire fighter for our city. Now, since he has been retired for years, my dad turns his attention to his garden and his large collection of orchid plants.

My sister Julie was in town this weekend and we spent part of our Saturday afternoon visiting our dad. He still lives in the house that we grew up in at the end of a dead end street and down a long driveway, secluded from traffic and passers-by. It was on the slope of that driveway that I learned how to drive my little Renault stick shift when I was 17. My mom would say, "if you can stop on the hill and then get it going again without killing the engine, you will do okay driving on the street. Until then, you can't leave the driveway."

My dad, being a man who never throws anything away, has built long shelves from old wood planks that were probably leftover from a home addition he did years ago. These shelves line the edge of the driveway where I used to park my little car. Scraps of shade cloth are draped over a make-shift trellis to provide protection from the harsh afternoon sun. Parked on the shelves are dozens and dozens of orchid plants - in full bloom with cheery faces of blush, ivory, creamy mango and yellow.

 As a teenager I would drive by a house just a few blocks away where the Wilwerdink family lived. Mr. Wilwerdink grew orchids and posted a sign at the foot of the driveway. "Orchids for Sale" was hand painted on it. I had visions of their back yard being filled with blooming plants and that Mrs. Wilwerdink pinning orchid corsages on all who came to visit!

I'm sure my dad's collection is quite small compared to what the Wilwerdink family had, but nonetheless, it is stunning to see all those flower covered branches extending their arms out to say hello!

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