GC Top Gardener: Dorothy Paterson
By Jessica Rodrigo
Dorothy Paterson grew up on a farm where her father raised crops in South Texas, while soldiers fought in World War II. She remembers him growing cotton and corn to be shipped off to support the U.S. forces.
As a child, she learned a lot of what she knows about gardening from her parents and to this day continues to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers at her home, through her work with the Goliad Garden Club and landscaping the prayer garden at her church.
Paterson, 70, who is a modest woman with a light laugh, is quick to spread the recognition of the garden club throughout the members.
"It's not just me who does the gardening," she said. "We rotate who takes care of our beds and who waters each week."
As a member of the club, she and the other members have adopted planters in front of and around the Goliad Chamber of Commerce and are in charge of rotating the flowers, weeding and deadheading as needed.
Meanwhile, off the Farm-to-Market road where her ranch-style home sits, her yard is dotted with numerous oak trees and budding flowers.
Just beyond where the shade stretches, she has a small vegetable garden where she has tomato plants, cucumbers, green beans and squash growing for her and her husband.
"I grow what we like to eat," she said. "So when it's gone, it's gone."
However, she doesn't fret with herbs, despite her knack for cooking because she said they're too delicate. But she will admit that her specialty is jarring fruit and making jams.
"We have a patch of cactus apples that grow, and when they get really red, you have to pick them with tongs," she said motioning to her burgundy coffee maker as an example with a smile from ear-to-ear.
Family: Don, married 52 years. Two children, Wayne, 50, and Donna, 48.
What are your favorite things to grow in your garden?
Green pinto beans, tomatoes, green onions, yellow and zucchini squash and red potatoes. In among the vegetables, I plant marigolds, zinnias, doubled angel trumpets and bachelor buttons. Many of these seeds were handed down from my mother and her mother.
Has gardening taught you any valuable life lessons?
Without constant care and a watchful eye to protect it - you can lose it quickly - just like a child. You become very dependent upon God. He provides so many good nutrients in the soil and no watering or fertilizing accompanied with his rain. I would say, 'He is the master gardener.'
If you could change the climate to grow any plant in your garden, what would it be and why?
Roses with no thorns - they are like a token of love between God and man (or woman). As for a vegetable - I would like to grow Anasazi beans. They not only taste good, they are interesting to decorate with. Our climate has been too hot and dry to raise them here.
Are there any specific reasons why you garden?
Yes. I have a "special" small shovel and hoe that my grandmother had as she worked her flowers and garden. They were given to my mother and after she went to heaven, I inherited them. So I feel a closeness to them both as I work in my garden and flowers. This "gift" has been passed on to our daughter.
What is the biggest problem that you have come across while gardening?
The heat of summer days. Last summer I picked a tomato for lunch and it was so hot I could hardly hold it. Poor tomato.
My other problem is trying to harvest the prickly pear apples before the birds, wild hogs and who knows who else enjoys them - if I wait too long.