Children: Let Them Amaze You
Teenager Beautifies Neighborhood
Long before Vanessa became a teenager, in fact, when she was just a toddler, I knew that she would grow up to love all things botanical. We often took walks around the neighborhood. Her two older brothers would, of course, run ahead, in their continual quest to see who could outrun the other, but Vanessa took her time, pausing at every flower, shrub and vine along the way. I watched as she gently stroked the silken leaves and inhaled the fragrance of the flowering vines. I wondered if she had inherited my grandfather’s talent as a botanist. I nurtured Vanessa’s interest in plants by making sure that she had books and magazines to build her knowledge. I bought her a flower press when she was nine or ten. She’s thirty-nine years old now and that flower press remains on her nightstand.
Throughout her childhood, whenever we would have company or go to someone’s house for dinner, Vanessa would always remember to pick fresh flowers from the garden for the occasion. It didn’t have to be a special dinner, though, for Vanessa to gather flowers from the yard for our weeknight family dinners.
In high school, Vanessa enrolled in a horticultural program. We had just moved to a home in Redmond, Washington that happened to have a huge yard, both front and back. Vanessa took over that yard. She planted the most beautiful garden in the front yard on raised beds that went up the hillside along the street. Passersby would often stop to look. Sometimes they would come to the door to thank me for having such a lovely garden for the neighborhood to enjoy. You can imagine what pride I felt when I told them that it was not my handiwork, but that of my teenage daughter.
When it came time for Vanessa to choose a course of study at Cal Berkeley, of course, she chose botany. She graduated with a degree in biology and plant genetics and went on to become a dentist. Someday I’ll figure out the link between gardening and dentistry, but in the meantime, I get to enjoy Vanessa’s garden at her home and relish the wonder of raising a daughter who brings so much beauty to the world.