Friday, April 13, 2012

"G-Pa P's Geraniums"

That is what I reference them as in my garden journal or if I have a tray of cuttings, it's what I put on the tag before placing them in the greenhouse.  They are in actuality my Grandfather Dean Potter's Geraniums, my mothers father and one of my very early garden mentors.  My grandparents were devout, hardworking, salt of the earth folks that like many had lived through more than their share of hard times.   I was lucky enough to get to spend some good quality time with my grandfather working along side him in his huge garden.

One of the garden chores he took pride in was the geraniums that he planted around the large sign in front their church.  He would start in the spring planting out dozens of the geraniums that he cared for, all big healthy green foliage plants with tight little flower buds hiding from view.  Then he would water and fertilize until the plants had flowered and made such an amazing display of color.  As Deacon of the church he would stand in the greeting line when church let out and would blush with pride as members would comment on his lovely geraniums.
At the back of grandpa's property in what used to be part of the old chicken yard and vegetable garden, he filled the large piece of ground with row upon row of dahlias which also graced the alter at the church as well.  Until my parents moved us from England back to Oregon my grandfather would take on all this by himself, a big job for anyone but harder for him because of his painfully stiff leg that he quietly put up with for most of his adult life.  In the late 1930's he was in the reserves and during one of their annual parades a team of mules spooked and started stampeding blindly towards a crowd, my grandfather was nearly trampled to death when he bravely grabbed hold of the frightened mules thus avoiding the injury or deaths of innocent onlookers.  He spent a good deal of time in hospitals eventually coming home in a body cast.  That was many years ago, the stiff leg a constant reminder of those difficult years.  I remember walking out to the garden to find him with spade in hand carefully digging dahlia tubers to be washed, separated and tagged for storage through the winter.  He would give me his little half smile, hand me a spade and patiently pass on all his knowledge of the task at hand. 

That was many years ago and although grandpa is gone I have managed to keep his favorite geraniums thriving.  I planted them at the church the spring after his death but then when fall came I was told that the garden was to become part of the parking lot so I carefully dug them and brought them home to Menagerie Manor.  They look great in large terracotta pots and this year I have decided to make some changes in the rose garden so this summer I will have a large display of them just as in bi gone years around the sign at my grandparents church. So this years starts are showing some progress and will soon be planted in the ground to start the whole process over again.

2012 cuttings

This photo was taken after my grandfathers death. A second cousin sits in front of the sign were the geranium bed used to be. he was given permission to re-dig part of the bed and plant a few geraniums in his honor. The following year it was all concrete.


  1. Sad that they paved it over like that.
    It's wonderful for you to remember your grandfather this way. And it was so wonderful for him to share all his knowledge with you.

    Hope you're all doing well, Doc! ♥

  2. what a lovely tribute to your grandfather...this post and how you've carried on with the geraniums!

  3. I think your Grandfather would be happy that you remember him in this way.

  4. Your grandpa sounds like a wonderful man and the geraniums are very beautiful.

  5. Beautiful geraniums and I love the story too Doc! Thanks for sharing the memories!!!

    Yay, I am so glad to get back into my train!!!

    Hugz from Blondie