Garden by Jan
Garden by Jan
Kate Richards
Looking around Jan Carmignani's northwest Logan neighborhood, it's easy to see keeping up a garden isn't at the top of everyone's priorities.
But for Carmignani it's part of what makes life enjoyable.
Carmignani, 72, moved into her home in May, but the garden she planted and cares for looks like it has been in bloom for years. Bunches of roses, petunias and begonias in pinks, purples and yellows are edged by white concrete curbing, including one flower patch in the shape of a heart.
Carmignani moved from Amalga to be near Logan Regional Nursing, where her husband George is an Alzheimer's patient. First priority after moving was to bring in dirt and get some flowers growing.
"This yard was all practically dead when I moved in here," Carmignani said.
She said her landlord has been glad to let her plant flowers and her neighbor helps with mowing and edging the lawn.
The current project is only a few months old, but the Carmignanis are no strangers to gardening. They won five awards for yardwork while living in Provo, including the mayor's award for the most outstanding yard. They also won an award for their garden in Amalga and their home in Bakersfield, Calif., was featured in Sunset magazine.
The Sunset garden was Japanese style and Carmignani said she and her husband spent years cutting the roots of bonsai trees to keep them small for the garden.
Carmignani's neighbor, Kate Powell, said she appreciates the beauty Carmignani has brought to the neighborhood.
"This whole northwest neighborhood has been inundated with apartments," she said. "I just think the way she's taking care of her particular part of the four-plex is just beautiful."
Powell said many landlords and residents don't care what their yard looks like and that Carmignani is a great example.
"Jan is a little Garden of Eden over there," she said.
Carmignani also hopes her gardening will encourage her neighbors.
"They seem to be tickled," she said. "Maybe it'll catch on.
But, she said, it's important to realize gardening isn't easy -- it's more than just planting flowers. Once in place, they have to be watered and cared for on a daily basis.
"To me that's not work -- it's a soothing relaxation," she said.
But she realizes it's not for everyone. It's like having a pet, she said -- you shouldn't have one if you don't want to take care of it.
Carmignani's love for flowers sprouted while she was growing up on her family's fruit and vegetable farm in California. Her uncle Walter didn't grow the standard food fare.
"He went into flowers," Carmignani said. "Just imagine acres of beautiful flowers blooming. Oh, that's a beautiful sight."
She remembers telling him he made the flowers so beautiful, and his reply: "No, God made them so beautiful."
As a Jehovah's Witness, Carmignani said she feels close to her Creator when she works with flowers.
"I appreciate the flowers because it's part of God's creation," she said.
Her husband also had a love for flowers when they married 36 years ago, a second marriage for both, so gardening was a natural hobby for the couple. Carmignani said George had the vision of what their gardens would look like. Together they proved honeydew and crenshaw can be grown in Amalga, Utah, and they used to take vegetables from their garden to share with their congregation. Carmignani also made bouquets to take to elderly neighbors.
"I wanted to share my flowers as well," she said.
She worries her current garden won't be big enough to share, but it's growing, as she said her landlady notices.
"Every time she comes I've got another one," she said, laughing and pointing out the heart-shaped garden she put in the middle of the lawn -- a 36th wedding anniversary gift for her husband, she said.
Carmignani's gardening time is carved out between the hours she spends with her husband and witnessing in her neighborhood. She goes to the nursing home every day to visit George and help with his meals, and she often takes their Brittany spaniel to visit, too. She spends her limited free time visiting neighbors and participating in Bible study.
Most of the Carmignanis' family of 14 grandchildren and she has two great-grandchildren is still in California, where Carmignani and George married.
She talks about and plants all kinds of flowers, inside and out, but Carmignani said Tubris Begonias are her favorite.
"They're just so beautiful they almost don't look real," she said.
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Lovely story.
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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