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THE LAST ROW: A wish fulfilled: Old book makes its way back

Feb 1st, 2016 | Category: Features

by Carol Kilgore

Twenty four years ago, when my husband died suddenly, I was faced with a very important decision.

PHOTO BY CAROL KILGORE

PHOTO BY CAROL KILGORE

How was I going to support myself and raise my children? He had always been the bread winner and I was a stay-at-home mom not really trained in any particular field. My neighbor, a master gardener, knew of my situation and called me one day to say that an elderly friend of hers, a fellow garden club member, could use some help in her garden. I come from a long line of gardeners….gardening was something I DID know something about, so I went to work for Frances in the Spring of 1993.

Modern times had completely passed her by. Walking into her home was like walking into a time warp. The 50s décor was unmistakable… orange shag carpet, a brown couch, chartreuse accents and a bright turquoise rotary phone on the kitchen wall! She knew a lot about plants and had created lovely gardens, but just couldn’t take care of them by herself, anymore. With her as the supervisor, I pruned, weeded, dug, divided and transplanted… learning a great deal in the process. I was making $8 an hour.

Gradually, by word of mouth, I started to build up a clientele. I met and married a wonderful man from Mexico who became my business partner and together we created a successful landscaping business. We continued to work for Frances for quite a few years and one day in 1996, when I was helping her go through some things in the house, she took a large book off the shelf and told me that she’d like me to have it after she passed away. She said it was her gardening ‘bible’. On a small piece of paper she wrote, “Please give this book to Carol Kilgore 3-14-96” and placed it within its pages. I was deeply touched.

Well, I didn’t get the book after she passed away and over the years, I’ve wondered what became of it. This past January, I received a phone call from a woman who had bought the book at the estate sale after Frances’s death and has had it all these years. She said that recently, she opened the book to look at it and found the note that was placed there 20 years ago. She found me in the phone book and I now have The Practical Encyclopedia of Gardening in my possession and  I’m delighted that Frances’s wish has been fulfilled. Originally copyrighted in 1936 and sold for $3.95, I consider this 887 page encyclopedia to be a real treasure.

Carol Kilgore lives in the foothills of Whatcom County, is an avid gardener and passionate about photographing the beauty of nature.

Published in the February 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

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