childhood · Children's story · Christmas · Flowers · food · garden · gardening · memories

The Red Geraniums


Susan’s grandma lived in a sunny valley in a little pink mobile home. Susan loved visiting Grandma because she was very sweet, and her garden was full of beautiful flowers and many kinds of goodies to nibble while walking through the plants.


Grandma always had tasty fruit to eat, and she made delicious pies. Grandma made her own yogurt, which she sweetened with honey and vanilla and topped with fruit.

When Grandma was little, she lived far away in a country called Finland.


Grandma tried to make her home into her own Little Finland. She planted birch and spruce trees, and everywhere she looked she could see flowers or fruit.

Inside Grandma’s house was filled with potted plants. None were as bright and attractive as the red geraniums. Susan went to see how they smelled. She looked up surprised. “Grandma!” she exclaimed, “why are you growning these flowers that smell like dirt? They’re gross!”


“Ooooh,” Grandma grumbled softly. “They don’t smell bad. You liked them before you smelled them, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Susan answered.

“Look,” Grandma held up a jar of cut geranium branches. Inside the jar full of water, the branches were growing a mass of white roots.


“I took cuttings of geraniums, like these in the jar, and wrapped them, first in wet moss and then in waxed paper,” said Grandma. “I brought them to America from Finland, many years ago. People can’t bring plants to this country anymore. You can see how special they are to me. My first ones came from my sister’s garden in Finland. Now I


have my garden there in the window.”


“They are really pretty, Grandma,” said Susan. “Do you think I could try to grow some for my window?”

“I hoped you would ask.” Grandma smiled sweetly at her. “I will help you plant one of these cuttings, and you should have flowers for Christmas.”

Grandma found a flower pot with a little dranage hole in the bottom. She covered the hole with small pebbles and then added a small amount of potting soil on


top of the pebbles, in a mound, so the middle was highest. She held the stem of the cutting  and gently spread the roots out, evenly. She added more soil to the pot, patting it carefully around the roots until she had enough to reach nearly to the top of the pot. Grandma made sure there was a saucer under the pot to catch any excess water.

“Slowly add some water to the pot,” Grandma instructed Susan. “The water will make the potting soil pack down a little, so add more soil and then water again.”

“Put your plant in a sunny window at home,” said Grandma. “After the soil looks dry, water it again, about once a week. Soon you’ll have a window garden all your own.”

“Thank you, Grandma,” said Susan. She gave Grandma a hug.
“Now,” Grandma said, “let’s have some yogurt. Do you want strawberries on top?”



At Christmas time, Susan called Grandma on the phone. “Oh Grandma, you were right. My geraniums are blooming! They match the Christmas decorations, all green and red. But Grandma, I still think they smell gross.”

Grandma laughed, and Susan laughed too.




4 thoughts on “The Red Geraniums

  1. Wow! Your grandma must have been so incredibly BRAVE to trek it over here to the USA on her own…and with cuttings from her native country to grow on land new to her! I love the drawings, too, which must depict your memory as a child of a special lady you still hold close to you heart. She sounds like she was a treasure; thank you for sharing!

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