Writer Alexis Koukos, here at age 9 and 5, left to right, grew to love gardening along with her mother.

When I was young, my mom would always bring me flower shopping. “Which color do you like better?” she would ask, pointing to an array of peonies, pansies, and the like. I would usually pick a shade of bubblegum pink. I cherished these times, walking around the nursery, filling our cart with flowers, hanging baskets, and accessories to include in our garden. Then, I would watch my mom transform our home’s surroundings into a colorful and lush oasis. She would constantly work in the garden, digging, planting, and raking. I would help with my Barbie watering can, small rake, and shovel. It was more playing than actual work, but this fostered the beginning of a lifelong journey of gardening.

Mothers and daughters who garden together: Writer Alexis Koukos, right, with her mother, Pam Brown, also a writer, at at Tarrywile Park & Mansion in Danbury, where the pair often go to walk the trails and get inspired by its natural beauty.

Over the years I’ve come to discern the difference between a hydrangea and hyacinth and learn when to tie down daffodils and when to begin growing mums — all thanks to my mom. We have continued to work together to find what works and what doesn’t. Each spring we gather up seeds — growing them first inside — ensuring they have adequate sunlight and water. As the seedlings grow into blooming flowers, mom taught me to replant them in our garden so they have adequate room to thrive. Also, we have ventured past flowers to grow tomatoes and herbs and have attempted to grow fruit from seeds.

Through our gardening adventures, my mom has imparted some wisdom that seems to apply well beyond the soil and grass:

“Patience is key” — After digging holes and planting dozens of seeds, eons seem to pass until you see a tiny, green string-like stalk pierce through the soil. Then, more eons pass until you see a flower. This can be frustrating and I feel that my time was wasted. Instead of watching the clock, mom reminds me to believe in and embrace the process — nature has its own exact and beautiful timing.

“It’s okay to get a little dirty” — I am not a huge fan of getting dirty, but after an afternoon in the garden with my mom, my fingernails are filled with dirt and grass stains are inevitable. However, it is a small price to pay for a beautiful garden. Beauty always blossoms through.

Alexis, here at age 9, waters a window box outside her home.

“Hard work, sweat, and dedication are necessary” — Creating a garden is hard; I argue maintaining a garden is harder. When I was younger, I made a deal with my mom that for every weed I pulled, I would get 5 cents. It seemed like a sound financial decision at the time, but little did I know that task would be the hardest chore I ever had — bending, pulling, tugging, cutting, and squeezing. However, I quickly learned and saw how a handful of weeds could multiply and detract from all of the hard work in building a garden in the first place. Mom explained that it is best to keep up with the weeding to ensure the garden is kept in good condition. It may be hard work, but it will pay off in the long run with bountiful blossoms and greenery.

Gardening with my mom continues to be one of my favorite summer activities. I have come a long way from using my Barbie watering can and am happy to tackle gardening — and life’s journey — with Mom’s advice.