Reminiscing Home by Guest Writer Tom Cadenhead

19/07/2012 14:16

13/09/2011 10:32


NOVEMBER 25 1942-OCTOBER 24 2011



Rather than one of my gardening stories the following is a piece from my friend Tom Cadenhead called Reminiscing home.

Being a Canadian I have never seen most of the plants that Tom talks about in his story.They sound wonderful and exotic.

Tom is a retired sawyer living in Florida and you can read many of his stories on his site Tomsaw.You will find them in the allegories section.


EDIT;As you can see,Tom has passed away since I wrote the above introduction.Tom is being laid to rest today,Thursday October 27/2011,in his beloved State of Florida which he writes about below.We didn't know each other long but I enjoyed each and every moment of that time.Tom,thank you for sharing your wisdom with me but most of all,thank you for sharing your laughter with me.

Journey well my friend.


Reminiscing home

Having spent my early childhood in near tropical environments, I have been exposed to some of the most beautiful flowering plants in the world. Those were memorable years and nostalgia overwhelms me in an instant when a button is pushed.

The other day a subject came up on our Forestry Forum about tropical trees and, all of a sudden, my minds eye was filled with images of a great, big, Royal Poinciana tree that graced the back of the lot at Grandmom's and Granddad's place where Charlie and I were raised.

It was a double trunked tree that split at about 4 feet off of the ground. Each trunk must have been 20" in diameter or greater, and the tree itself was 40 or 50 feet tall and covered a sixteenth of an acre next to the chicken pen. Beneath the tree was the entrance to the chicken pen and four to six of Granddaddy's bee hives glistening in white glory. On the other side of tree was a small chicken pen and coop that Granddaddy built for Charlie and me to house Bantams. We spent a lot of time under that tree and I can distinctly remember the summers with an absolutly orange ceiling over our heads and winters with two foot long seed pods rustling in the wind like an entire band of Maracas.

Tropical flowers were bursting with color and had no problems with crowding. Dense undergrowth of various flowering plants growing in the shade of flowering trees was not uncommon and occupants generally relied on trails rather than expanses of lawn to get to the house. The shade was comforting in the heat of a Florida sun and the humidity, bearable. Of course we had become accustomed to the humidity and accepted it as normal. If I had to describe a tropical flower or garden in one word, it would have to be "Happy".

Along the back of the house and under Mom's and Grandmom's windows were Beugan Villa and Carissa Plum. They were Grandmomma's favorites. Hedges of eight foot high Turks Caps bordered the back yard and the separate garage's walls were lined in Spider Lilly. Beneath much of this were the colorful and sometimes twisted leaves of Crotons with there brilliantly colored, varigations.

A Loquat with branch-breaking loads of sweet orange fruits, stood next to the garage, in the corner of the yard.

Florida Cherry (Surinam) hedges surrounded the house and the south side yard contained two large Sea Grape trees with their large plate sized leaves and purple fruits. The Front yard was bordered with hibiscus and the front of the house with Alamandos and some white flower of which I am ignorant. There were Melaleucas along the street with their sickening sweet, bottle brush shaped flowers and white paper bark.

A Coconut palm in the front yard fed us boys and many a day would find us sitting on the curb, hammering the husks off of the nuts. A rock garden next to the driveway entrance was loaded with daisy's and beach sunflower's; a huge water oak shaded the drive (read hose story). Beside the dining room and back porch on the north side of the house were Cabbage Palms, with the remnants of palm fronds clinging to their trunks. A Coconut palm grew beside the back door and a view of Water Oak and Pines were in the back. Next to one of the oaks was a Cabbage Palm with Night Blooming Cirrus growing up its trunk. We would spend evenings sitting around this tree, watching the sweet smelling flowers open.

It's not that this yard was anything special, everybody's yard was like this. Mangos, Guavas, Oranges, Grapefruit, Kumquats and Calamondins for the taking, kept young boys out of the kitchen during the day.

We roamed in the neighborhood where we pleased, as long as we said where we were going. Even the families without children were amenable to neighborhood kids and we had the free run of the world with the overseeing eyes of little, old ladies watching through the screens.

We attended school and worked hard at learning but our free time wasn't measured in how well we did at school nor were we made to feel that we had to help support the family. Yes, we mowed yards on command but never considered getting paid for it. I was sent many a time to mow a neighbors yard "because it needed it". Sometimes, other kids would help so we could go play baseball.

I can sit here today and smell the smells, hear the noises and see the sights through pre-teen eyes just as sharply as if I were still there.