Judy Spooner: Tales of unusual garden discoveries sprout this time of yearThe stories behind a couple of unusual backyard garden discoveries.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
If a story tip comes to the Bulletin about animals, flowers or vegetables, it’s likely to come to me.
I recall a St. Patrick’s Day many years ago when a woman called to ask me to take a picture for the newspaper of her two poodles. She had used food coloring to dye them both green. I told her that we didn’t have the capability to print pictures in color. “What difference does that make?” she said. “They’re so cute.”
I set my journalistic standards aside and took the picture. I wrote, in the caption, that the dogs were dyed green.
For five years in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I held a “largest zucchini contest” with adult and child divisions. Winners got free one-year subscriptions to the South Washington County Bulletin.
I ended the contests because those who entered insisted that I keep the vegetable entrants and I ran out of friends to give them to. Also, my family got tired of eating zucchini chocolate cake.
One year, a woman called to say she had a tomato that looked like Herbert Hoover. While thinking about it on the way to her home, I concluded that I didn’t know what he looked like. “It doesn’t really matter,” I said to myself. “She thinks it looks like him. Who am I to judge?”
It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon talking about her love of gardening. She insisted I take home a grocery bag full of veggies. I spared her the lecture about reporters not accepting free items from people they are covering. She would have felt rejected if I had declined.
Last week, Gary Zenner called to see if I might be interested in taking a picture of the 10-foot sunflower he grew in his yard.
Zenner, retired from the Canadian Pacific Railroad, “just bought the seeds from Menards,” and had no idea one would grow so tall.
In thinking about the sunflower after I left his home, I thought about the process of sowing seeds. The sunflower rose from one tiny seed.
Zenner did something similar. He has six apple trees and gave some of the apples to a neighbor. She returned with two apple pies.
He had sowed some seeds and got back much more than he gave.
I also visited the home of Evelyn and Vic Murray, who’ve lived in Cottage Grove in the same house since 1959.
Vic loves to be in his garden when he’s not fetching parts for Butch Duff at Broadway Automotive.
Evelyn wanted me to take a picture of Vic with an odd-looking tomato from the garden. No, she didn’t think it looked like anyone famous.
Vic, 77, is retired from North Star Steel where he was in charge of the scrap yard.
These days, Vic misses being out in the garden.
He has inoperable prostate cancer.
So far, he’s gotten 100 get well cards, Evelyn said.
If you want to send a card, the Murrays live at 8677 Grospoint Ave. S., Cottage Grove, 55016.