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Gardening brings family together

IRONTON — Family fun can come in a variety of forms. For a local Ironton family, that fun means growing what will eventually be on their dinner table.

Gardening has always been a part of Georgia and Merril Triplett’s lives. Their house is surrounded by an array of carefully maintained flowers that turns their residence into a stunning display of springtime.

Despite the radiance of the flowerbeds, Merril could not help but want to grow something else. He wanted a vegetable garden. But he had one problem: his recent lung removal surgery made it nearly impossible for him to bend over enough to labor over a vegetable garden.

His two sons, Merril Jr. and Billy, were not going to let their father’s wish die off. Rather, they came up with an idea that involved the whole family.

“Both of my boys came up and I said ‘I’d like to have me a garden but I can’t bend over’ and the boys said ‘well dad, we’ll build you one’,” Merril said with a smile.

In order to facilitate their father’s inability to bend, the boys built him a garden approximately three and half feet above the ground using lumber and nails.

“We jumped in and built it,” Merril said. “It’s a family project.”

Merril said it took a couple of evenings to complete, but when it was done, it was ready to be planted. The boys helped him fill it with dirt and began planting seeds on Mother’s Day. Since then, the vegetable garden has become an object of family interest.

“I have my boys here all the time and they were never here that much before,” he said. “We just get out there and have a lot of fun about it.”

With all the family, including his daughters Susanne, Lauren, and Julia, participating, Merril nearly grows enough to form a salad bar. There are rows of all types of vegetables including sweet peas, green peppers, cabbage, carrots and more.

“Everyone in the family has their own row,” Merril said.

The most fascinating feature of the garden, however, is on the porch where another wooden box is standing full of dirt. On first glance, it is easy to mistake it for an empty box, but when fully looked over, it is hard to miss the mass amounts of vines growing out of the bottom of the pot. The box holds down-growing tomato plants, which are doing just as, if not better than, the rest of the plants in Merril’s garden.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I have enjoyed this thing more in the last three months than I have enjoyed anything in my whole life.”

Although Merril will be in Cincinnati over the Father’s Day weekend recovering from an aneurism removal, he and the family is sure to be getting dirty again soon.

“I’ll be back in full force soon,” Merril said.