Cartersville gardener's knowledge preserved with 'Why Don't My Beans Snap?'
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 17, 2011 | 1576 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In her recently self-published "Why Don't My Beans Snap?" Karen Miller Boda pays tribute to her late father's love of gardening. The 372-page paperback is a compilation of William Paul Miller's gardening columns that were printed in The Daily Tribune News from February 2002 to December 2006.

"My father was a very, very avid gardener," Boda said. "This was his passion for years and years, and his passion spread to the community with his work as a Lifetime Master Gardener. And when he passed away, I ended up with his computer as well as he had kept binders filled with article after article after article that he had cut from the papers. I had all of this information and all of [these pieces] of him and I didn't feel right about storing it all away on a CD and just putting it in the cabinet somewhere.

"So at that point I just committed myself to compiling them together. Part of it was for him -- it was a memory to him -- but part of it was also for me in this was a way that I was able to capture his essence. I also have three children and my sister had two children as well, and it was a way for us to again put my dad's writings together so that it would be there for the kids."

Ending each article with "Happy Gardening!" Miller tackled a wide range of issues in his weekly columns, from creating a butterfly-friendly garden and promoting the benefits houseplants to sampling a ripe tomato.

"I think it's a fantastic way of honoring him," Bartow County Master Gardener Kate Posey said. "He had so much knowledge and he was so eager to share it. I think gardeners as a whole tend to want to nurture and help each other. They are very quick to lend plants and shoots and other things in the garden to expand that knowledge. He was very helpful, especially with children, and I know he worked for years at the Atlanta Botanical Garden at the children's garden there. So we were just delighted to have him as part of our Bartow County group.

"And then of course when he started [having] his articles [published], it was just fabulous. ... [In his columns] he never talked down to you. It's almost like a fellow gardener [saying], 'Did you realize if you do this, that and the other thing this is going to make a better plant? And you'll have a better outcome and your production will be so much better.' I just absolutely love his articles. I savor them. I read one every day," she said, referring to Boda's book. "They are just so timely. They're just fabulous."

Miller, a Cartersville resident who passed away June 7, 2009, began writing for The Daily Tribune News when he was 84. Also when he was in his 80s, he became a certified Lifetime Master Gardener, an Atlanta Botanical Garden volunteer and an active Bartow County Master Gardener.

"Every time I saw him he had a bag of something for me, whatever happened to be ripe or whatever was in bloom at the time," Boda said. "We never encountered each other without him giving me a bag of something. My most vivid memories are the blueberries that we picked, just buckets and buckets and buckets of literally as well as the tomatoes. I don't think I'd ever purchased a store-bought tomato until just probably a year before he died. So I can't even eat a tomato anymore without thinking of him.

"He loved to garden. Every free moment he had he was out. He loved to share. If he thought you were the least bit interested in gardening, the next time he saw you he'd bring you a plant or some of his produce or he'd tell you his latest trick that he'd tried. Dad ... grew up in a poor family in Indiana and, because of that, everything he did was thrifty. So he recycled everything and every plant. He cobbled together all the fences in the yard and he reused stuff. He was very, very creative in how he managed to garden and share his love of gardening."

Retailing for $17.99," "Why Don't My Beans Snap?" can be purchased at www.amazon.com.