My parents moved into the house we live in two weeks before I was born. For as long as I can remember, we have always had a vegetable garden.

Our garden runs the length of our backyard. It’s a raised garden that, when in full bloom, crowns the backyard.

When my father was alive, he was the main gardener in the family. After he passed away, my mother took over.

Her garden is a thing of beauty. Lush, full and alive, it’s a peaceful strip of heaven in the middle of a very typical Toronto neighbourhood.

The other day I was home from work, not feeling well. I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and as I waited for the water to boil, I did what I’ve done probably a thousand times: I stood by the sink and looked out the kitchen window directly at my mother’s garden.

I do this so often that most of the time I don’t even think I notice what I’m seeing. But on that day, maybe because it had rained shortly before, it’s like I really noticed the garden for the first time.

It was so beautiful and it made me feel so much better.

I’m so proud of my mom and her garden that I grabbed my camera and went out to snap these pictures.

I don’t have a lot of experience taking nature photographs so I apologize in advance to my mom as the pictures don’t do her garden full justice. Still, though, I hope you enjoy them.

What I love most about my mother’s vegetable garden is that while it is orderly, it’s not overly orderly or neat. I love gardens that are a bit unstructured. In this picture, you can see the sweet pea in the back, framing the zucchini and the parsley. It’s hard to see in the picture but in the bottom, righthand corner you can see a bit of lavender peeping out. That’s a Cream Puff addition to the garden:


This is cicoria. It’s funny but I actually don’t know what this lettuce is referred to in English. It is without question my favourite lettuce and my mother grows it especially for me because she knows I love it. It’s bitter and hearty and I can’t imagine summer without it:


Being Italian, the majority of our garden is dominated by tomato plants. We’re still at least a few weeks away from our first tomatoes but they’re getting closer. And where would we be without basil for out tomatoes:


My mother is especially proud of these particular tomato plants because they actually grew from the seeds of last year’s tomatoes. When we make our tomato sauce in August, we bury the tomato peels and seeds in the garden. Well some of those seeds will bear fruit this year:


This is bietola, or swiss chard. Again, this is something that has to be in the garden every year! We enjoy our bietola in my mother’s super delicious minestrone, which is an Italian vegetable soup. My mom doesn’t waste any space in the garden so we snuck in some chives just in front of the bietola:


We love our hot peppers:


At the other end of the garden, my mother works on her beans, cucumbers and my strawberries. I first planted a strawberry plant years ago and since then, its multiplied into numerous plants. We don’t get a lot of strawberries but the ones that we do get are so flavourful. My mother loves beans so there’s lots of those, too:


There’s no such thing as wasted space in my mother’s garden and that includes containers. This particular container is filled with cucumber plants. I’m sure this barrel has a story behind it … if only it could talk:


If there is one thing about the garden that my mother and I disagree on, it’s sage. I love it. She doesn’t. Still, she lets me keep one sage bush that is so full and beautiful. Those yellow flowers peeking around and through the sage bush are more cucumbers:


The garden also includes a number of containers that my mom uses for herbs and lettuce:


I get one container for all the herbs that I love like thyme, tarragon and oregano:


And last, but certainly not least, rosemary. My very favourite:


I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my mother’s garden as much as I enjoyed taking them. Even though it’s a small garden, it’s a beautiful one. My mother deserves so much credit for creating such a lovely space. It’s a pleasure to enjoy the fruits of her labours.


I hope that you take whatever space you have and plant a garden, too!