My Grandpa and Grandma Fernandez lived in San Fransisco, (off Alamany) in a typical SF style house. Two story, bay windows, giant garage and touching the neighbors house on each side. The back yard is just as typical – boring Euonymous shrubs in the front and a rectangular strip of land in the back. I was really young when my Grandpa died, but the few memories I have of him are in the garden.
I remember the garden was laid out with a square lawn in the center and a little concrete sidewalk around the perimeter. When I was super young I remember thinking – this walkway is too small. If you ran too fast or lost your balance, it was easy to veer off the walk and onto the grass. Each side of the square had a long perennial bed, mostly planted with roses and ‘Meyer’ Lemon shrubs. By the time my Grandma passed away, the roses were at least 60 years old and the Lemon even older. (I’m still sad I never took cuttings from that garden when my family sold the house.)
On the West side of the garden off the lawn, stood an old wooden arbor, white washed a million years ago and always peeling and cracking from the whipping SF wind. It stood entrance for the back half of the yard – a small orchard. This was very typical in SF gardens back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. A tiny plot with a couple rows of old, gnarled fruit trees. This was the area I remember seeing my Grandpa the most, spending a morning in the orchard with loppers and a giant canister of DDT or something crazy toxic. (Hey, he was an old-school gardener and I was too young to give him shit for it.) How he ever grew all those Apples, Pears, Figs and Plums is beyond me. On the rare occasion that back yard was sunny and warm, I remember it mostly being foggy and windy as all hell.
I don’t remember talking with my Grandpa or working with him at all. But I do remember standing off to the side, on that tiny concrete walkway and turning the hose spigot on and off. On and off. It was galvanized steel with a flat oval knob and I loved it. I loved feeling the stead pressure and how fast the water came out.
This weekend I’m planning on bringing out the pair of garden clippers that belonged to my Grandpa. I want to sand and oil them, since a few Winters ago, I carelessly left them out in the rain. I hope one day I get back to 445 Amherst Street and maybe ask the new owners for a clipping of the old Lemon tree.