Patricia Klindienst: Ethnic Gardeners

For several years  I’ve assigned Klindienst’s book, The Earth Knows My Name, in my English classes at Santa Monica College.  I’ve recommended to book to many friends and faculty in English, ESL, and history.  At the recent American Horticulture Society Child and Youth Garden Symposium in Pasadena, I realized that I was at it again, recommending her book to almost everyone with whom I chatted.  Fortunately, I was able to meet with Patricia this summer.  After the FEEST at Holyoke, we drove south to see her in Guilford, Connecticut, which is on the coast.  It was a full and rich day.  We chatted a while in her kitchen and then walked to dinner at a local restaurant.

What we discussed: Her book and assignments I’ve designed.

Her new project based on a gardener she wanted to have in the book, but he was no longer living (Jewish).  She took me into her work room, where the wall was plastered with photos, immigrant manifests from their trip to America at the turn of the century, the greenhouses in Brooklyn? Bronx.   She had written about this Jewish couple in the proposed draft of The Earth Knows My Name, but had to cut them out.  He was the only gardener who was no longer living.  The family gave her access to the postcard collection of the family and she scanned the photos and made a beautiful book for them, showing both sides of the cards.  She feels she knows more about the family than the family  members know.  For some reason I thought she was fictionalizing this content, but no, she is writing a biography of this couple, especially this Jewish gardener, who seems to have risen to the top of the florist trade, supplying New York with flowers in the 20s(?)


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