National Gardening Week: First Plant Stories, Joys & Wisdom to Share

Cute toddler boy and his young mother watering plants in the garden at summer sunny day

June 2nd through June 8th is National Gardening Week, and we’re excited to share it with you.

Embracing the spirit of National Gardening Week, we are sharing our “first” gardening experiences because we all started somewhere.

We hope our stories inspire you to remember, share and enjoy your own first gardening experience again, especially with the friends, family, and young ones in your life!

My first garden header text with bleeding heart flower

Growing with Kids

“During my first spring working at Shonnard’s, I wanted to have a garden. I dreamed of growing beautiful vegetables and cooking meals with what we grew. I carefully picked out the seeds and drew a map of what I wanted to plant (as Darren suggested).

I was so excited to plant the garden with my 2 year old son, Owen. When it came time to plant, my son had a different idea. He grabbed the seed packets, and threw them in the air. I looked at the ground and realized there was no going back. We celebrated each new growth in our overstuffed garden bed. I had no idea what anything was and I never thought to remove things to create more room. Our garden was especially stuffed with zucchini and we loved to run out each day to see how they had grown. (I soon realized that giant zucchini were not necessarily something to be joyful about).

I’ve learned a few things over the years, but this (by far) was the most exciting garden. I even used his picture in our advertising the next season!” – Heidi

Carrot Seeds

“When I was very little, my mom planted a packet of carrot seeds with me in a tiny patch of soil near our garage. I remember not believing they would do anything. Summer break came, and I forgot about our seeds. One day, she reminded me of them and took me out there to pick some! I was so mind blown and ecstatic! I took every single one of my friends and family members out there to try the carrots after that. Likely why I am passionate about teaching people how to grow their own food.” – Angelee

Grow With It!

“The first garden I planted on my own as a young adult wasn’t anything grandiose and it wouldn’t have made any gardening magazines, but it was my very own and that made it special. I didn’t have a lot of space, and I had a lot of shade from a nearby oak tree, but I got creative and I made it work! I have always believed that if there is a will, there is a way, and I proved it with this little garden!

The space must have been about 15×15′ with a large cement slab taking over most of it. I used Rubbermaid totes with the bottoms cut out as makeshift raised beds (this helped keep the oak roots out as well as providing extra soil!) I also used a variety of training methods to grow my plants vertically and give myself extra space. Squash plants take some work to train, but vertical squash plants work wonders in small spaces!

I raised 3 tomatoes, a banana pepper, a lemon cucumber, a yellow crookneck squash, a zucchini, and a host of bonsai trees in this tiny garden with dappled shade.

My first garden opened my eyes to the possibilities of small spaces and the power of creativity! If you have sun, shade, wide open spaces, or a tiny space, make it your own and grow with it!” – Camille

Wonderful Ladies

“I didn’t really get into gardening myself until I started working here at Shonnards around 5 years ago. However, the wonderful ladies in my life growing up grew many things for baking and cooking, such as rhubarb, blueberries, zucchini, herbs, etc.” – Ashlea

4th Grade Plant Project

“In 4th grade I was given a water bottle and a twig from a willow branch. My assignment was to root it in water. To my surprise it rooted so well that I planted it in our front yard. Until the day we moved out of that house I watched it grow into an actual plant. By the time we left it was almost a 4 ft by 4 ft plant! I wish I could see it now, but I’d have to go back to California.” – Simone

I Had No Idea

“My earliest memories of feeling fascination over flowers was when I was grade school age. I would pick flowers around my grandparents house, and I found a little hole in the ground that I’d stuff the flowers in to keep them “safe”.

My own little garden didn’t happen until I was in my early-20’s when a friend asked if I wanted to grow something in the front yard of our apartment building. It was a strip of mounded dirt underneath a shade tree. I chose to grow some vegetable plants, and I had no idea what to do other than keep them watered. My nephews liked helping too! I learned so much from that first gardening experience. But, it was all like a happy dream come true.” – Rachel

Flowers with Fragrance

“My love for flowers with fragrance came from a star jasmine that was planted in our landscape. As a young kid during it’s bloom cycle I would take my bowl of cereal every morning before school and sit with the jasmine to take in the beautiful fragrance. Now I smell every flower just to see what it has to offer fragrance or beautiful bloom. I now have a landscape full of blooming vines, shrubs, trees and perennials for all seasons that bring me so much joy.” – Andrea

Community Garden

“My first gardening experience on my own as an adult was growing vegetables in the community garden at my son’s elementary school. I’d participated some in the garden growing up, but like so many kids really didn’t pay much attention to the how and the why we did things – that first summer I did almost everything wrong: didn’t prepare the soil or fertilize enough, got behind on watering and weeding, you name it. Despite all of that, a few things actually did OK, and over the years my gardening improved through learning and through experience.” – Darren

The Raspberry Patch

“My gardening journey started when I was very young. My favorite place to go was the raspberry patch on our farm. I was little enough to squeeze between the rows and pick all the fruit that my parents or brother couldn’t reach. To this day my favorite dessert or snack is fresh raspberries or raspberries with cream and sugar.” – Colby

In the Garden with Grandma

“When I was a little boy I loved spending time with my maternal grandmother. She always said a plant had to, “look good, smell good, and behave itself”. I guess that became my criteria as well. She would give a plant two years to prove it could meet the test, and if it didn’t – it was dug up and given to a neighbor. I have a vivid memory of walking through her Connecticut neighborhood and her pointing out all the plants that had previously been in her yard. To me, something that meets that test might be as simple as a pansy – but there are so many plants I love.” – Chris

A Morning Glory Tree

“When I was a kid (like 4 or 5) living in California, I liked to help my dad in the yard a lot and one weekend we went to Home Depot and I convinced my parents to buy me a pack of Heavenly Blue morning glories. I planted them all over the yard without my parents knowing and they quickly began to take over. I was pretty proud of myself. My dad had planted a tree that did not make it, so we transplanted all my seedlings to the base of the dead tree, where eventually they climbed all over it and it became a morning glory tree and I would run out and check the new flowers everyday.” – Patrick

Strawberries & Snap Peas

“My first garden memories from my childhood in Nebraska was picking strawberries and helping out in the garden. At our first house Andrea would go out to the Snap peas and munch as many as she could. Chris and I talk about this when ever the Peas are ready. A favorite memory watching a 1 year old eating Peas.” – Lynnette

My first plant header text with plant sprouts picture


“The first plant I grew myself would be a solo cup squash plant out of kindergarten. It was so small and delicate in that cup. Once I put it in soil it exploded in growth and became so unmanageable it grew into the ventilation windows of the basement.” – Angelee


“The first plant I grew on my own was a Monstera adansonii. I lived in an apartment near the coast and didn’t have an outdoor area, so a houseplant was perfect! It started from a tiny cutting, grew into a handsome small vine, had a run in with my roommate’s cat (who was fine and processed a stomach of steel, but severed it at soil level) and regrew into a massive vine that now lines my entire window! This long lived plant always makes me smile and it roots easily so I give cuttings to all of my friends!” – Camille

A Magic Pumpkin

“The first plants I chose to grow were beets, pumpkin, potatoes, and garlic. The highlight was definitely the pumpkin! The plant managed to grow one big-little pumpkin, and the length of the pumpkin vine was like witnessing magic.” – Rachel

Strawberries & Ranunculus

“Two of my first plants that I grew successfully that brought me the most joy were strawberries and ranunculus!

The ranunculus corms I purchased on a whim because they have always been one of my favorite blooms of Spring! I planted them and ended up with an entire bed of incredible blooms from my favorite orange to pink to yellow! They still come back every year and are the first sign of Spring in our garden.

The strawberries I ended up starting because it is my son and I’s favorite fruit. I had no idea going into it how easy they are to grow, and how quickly you can go from one strawberry plant to an entire batch!” – Ashlea

Dianthus – Peas – Lemon Cucumbers – Houseplants

“The first plant I planted by myself was a Pinks Dianthus, I loved it for its fragrance and cute flowers. The smell takes me back every time I smell it.

I also had a love for peas and lemon cucumbers. I would help plant them each year in the garden with my family, and when they started to ripen I would pick them when they were still small. After many times of this happening my mom would plant more peas and lemon cucumbers so the rest of the family would get some.

My first houseplants were a 2″ schefflera and 6″ dracaena. I asked Santa for them, and sure enough when I told my mom that I would like Santa to bring them she told me to put them in the walk way of the old greenhouse so when he stopped to pickup goodies for us he would see them. They were with my stocking on Christmas morning and I still have them today. They are much larger now, and have made many moves with me and are apart of my family.” – Andrea


“The first plants I grew myself were houseplants, including a money tree, dieffenbachia, bird of paradise and a pothos, in college. I knew enough about watering and light to be successful for quite a few years. However I did not know anything about common detrimental insects i.e. spider mites, mealy bugs & scale to realize I had a problem until it was too late. Lesson learned!” – Colby

Venus Fly Traps

“I started with Venus fly traps and I did kill a few before I researched and got it right.” – Patrick

Morning Glories

“I remember planting Morning Glory seeds with my Mom. They grew on the clothes line I was very proud of them. Every time I see Morning Glories it jogs my memory.” – Lynnette

words of wisdom header text with garden background

Memorability in the Mundane

“You unknowingly make unforgettable memories that last a lifetime doing something as simple and mundane as playing in the dirt.” – Angelee

Try New Things

“I think trying new things in gardening even if you don’t think you’ll be good at it is really important. I have killed quite a few plants before being able to grow all the different kinds of plants I can. There is always so much to learn and know, and staying open minded to new plants, techniques, etc is really beneficial.” – Patrick

You’re Never Alone and Weeding Mindset

“You are not alone: It is important to understand that you are never alone when you are gardening. Your plants want to survive and thrive and enjoy the sunshine along with you!

Thoughts on weeding: Every kid hates weeding, even if they get paid to do it. It is easy to hold on to the notion that weeding is a hated chore even as an adult. Find your peace in weeding. Don’t do it in the heat of the day, pull weeds in the early morning or a breezy evening. Don’t break your back, use a kneeler (even if it is a piece of cardboard!) and always have good posture.

Weeding should be a therapeutic task, taking you away from your busy, noisy life. No one ever wants to help you weed, so it is a quiet task and it is a great time to think. The simplicity of tugging away at the weeds allows the mind to calm and a smile to form. And once you are done, you should feel mentally revegetated and rejoice in the perfectly manicured area you have weeded! You and your plants are happy and able to breathe!” – Camille

Have an Open Mind

“I think that if you are a new gardener it is important to go into it with an open mind. Gardening isn’t just about the yield you get from the things you grow, it is also about the experience.” – Ashlea

Repelling Deer

“I think we all know how the deer are. Plantskydd is the best deer repellent we carry. It also helps that it is technically food for the plants, like Sluggo. The dried blood doesn’t smell like anything to us, but the deer smell it.” – Simone

Plant the Right Plant the First Time

“When I was in the Master Gardeners program at OSU, one thing really stuck out to me – Plant the right plant in the right place the first time. This really clicked with me when I moved into my first place and found many plants planted so close together. Through my first year of living in my home I spaced out plants and gave them the space they needed. Now my landscape has good air flow and lighting for each plant.” – Andrea

Learning Mistakes

“A big part of the pleasure of gardening for me was in coming to understand that it is a very complex and variable world, and many things happen in our garden – for good or for bad – in spite of what we do. Though there is plenty of math and science to good gardening skills, gardening is not engineering; while failures do occur, more commonly our “learning mistakes” instead provide lesser success rather than catastrophe. It is an entire field of endeavor where you can learn from books and from friends, but you can also just dive in and learn by doing, and there’s always (even after 35 years doing it personally and professionally) more you can learn and explore.” – Darren

Make a Plan

“Gardens perform better with planning. If it’s planned you can check for spacing, exposure, water needs, and all the things it needs to be successful.” – Chris

Mint Control

“A lesson to learn from our first house. Planting mint in the ground was a mistake. I now plant it in a container so it doesn’t grow every where in the bed.” – Lynnette

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Sharing the Garden with my Daughter

“The most joyful moments I’ve had in the garden are when my daughter is with me. She stands at eye level with the plants and touches them, tries to taste them, plays with them. I feel a sense of responsibility to tell her about the plants – their name, what they like, or don’t like (…such as being pulled out of the ground). Gardening is one of the greatest joys of my life. And to share that with my daughter, my nieces and nephews, my loved ones, and friends, is the greatest gift.” – Rachel

Gardening with my Son

“My garden is truly such an oasis for me and my little family. Getting to share and teach my son about gardening whether it be the pollinators that are helping us get beautiful flowers and vegetables or the specific needs of the different plants, it brings me so much joy to share in every season of gardening with him.” – Ashlea

Growing Food

“Growing my own food for the first time a few years ago was super fun. Almost more fun than eating the food.” – Simone

Grandma’s Garden

“My most joyful memories in the garden were spent with my Grandma. She had an amazingly lush garden right next to the pool so my cousins and I would help her pull weeds in the morning until it got too hot and then we spent the rest of the day/evening swimming in the pool. I would also help her dry and preserve flowers she grew like statice and strawflowers for making wreaths.” – Colby

How will you celebrate National Gardening Week?

If nothing else, spend some time in the garden! And if you need any plants or supplies to make your time more enjoyable, then we’ll be here for you.


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