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Mondayís green thumb lasts through autumn
Stan Johnson, Over 50 Writer

Many people plant flowers in the spring and then fizzle out on gardening for the rest of the year. True, hardcore flower gardeners try to have blooms for as long as possible, from early spring to late autumn.

Jane Monday, who lives in the eastern section of Hamblen County, is one of those who wants to keep digging in the dirt as long as possible every year. As a result, she has blooming flowers when most gardens are wilted and mostly barren.

She said she has been gardening almost all her life, beginning as a toddler with her grandfather.

"I lived with my grandparents and my grandfather always had a big vegetable garden and he let me plant a few flowers when I was about 4 or 5 and working with him in the garden," she said.

She preferred flowers, mainly because vegetables seemed like a lot of work to a child.

She is from Ohio and learned about life in the south from her husband, Ervin. His family was from around Maryville, but moved north to find work. The couple met when they both worked in a bank. Later, they moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Ervin worked for the city and Ann held a variety of jobs.

Ervinís family had many relatives still in Tennessee they visited them often, including some in Morristown. After he and Jane married, he told her when it was time to retire he would like to move to Tennessee. They did just that 14 years ago, first living on Fish Hatchery Road, then building their present house and moving in 11 years ago.

The home has a big back yard, but Jane began growing flowers in the front. It wasnít long before the effort moved to behind the house. The main reason for that location shift was so she could see the blooming plants from her kitchen window.

For Jane, gardening is more than a hobby. Itís a passion.

"When the sun is out, she is out," her husband said.

"I always worked indoors. I think that is why I like being outdoors so much," she said.

People who know how she feels about gardening give her plants and bulbs, which feeds her love of digging in dirt. When she gets a gift for her garden she canít resist seeing it grow.

"I have to put them in the ground. I canít not plant," she said.

While she may plant any kind of flower, her true love is the old standby blooms.

"I like the old flowers, iris, day lilies, daises," she said.

Living in Tennessee has increased the time she can devote to gardening and thatís not just because she is retired.

"Compared to Ohio and Michigan, the winters are shorter and the growing season is longer," she said.

Her present garden is a combination of flowers planted more or less at random.

"When I started, I had no master plan. I just started digging," she said.

One of the pleasures of being outside is spending time with her cats. They want to supervise and help as much as they can.

"They play with the bugs and roll in fresh turned dirt," she said.

She and the cats all spend a lot of time keeping flowers blooming as late in the year as possible.

"I love to have flowers I can cut and bring in the house," she said. "I have what I call my cutting garden."

"I call her a perpetual motion machine," Ervin said, by way of describing his wifeís toil in the garden. To her, it isnít labor at all.

"I can go work in the garden all day and come in and be happy. I feel better than if Iíd done nothing. Gardening soothes my soul," she said.


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