Rockefeller Park Garden
Upon retirement, Robert Franks and his wife went to visit what many call “one of Cleveland’s best kept secrets” - the Rockefeller Park Gardens and Greenhouse. The Franks were enamored by the absolute beauty and organization of the property. Toward the end of their visit, Robert noticed a few tomato plants off to the side against a wall, “like they weren’t supposed to be there,” he says. These were some of the only fruit and vegetable plants he saw on the entire grounds; greatly outnumbered by the flowers and decorative plants.
Robert inquired and soon he was walking the grounds with Master Gardener and Reckefeller volunteer Lloyd Evans, a man renowned throughout Cleveland at the time unbeknownst to Robert. “I didn’t think you were comin’,”
said Lloyd when they first met... “everyone calls but nobody shows up.” Robert saw this as a challenge and it was the beginning of a long frienship and mentorship. “He taught me everything,” says Robert who still thinks of his friend every time he plants a seed.
Robert enjoys the peculiar and unexpected when gardening. He says that people usually envision a garden as long straight rows. “That’s not what it is,” he grins, “it’s four half-moons and two rectangles,” he laughs, as if he were getting away with something. He also likes to plant on Good Friday, which has always yielded well, even in poor weather. Robert and his friends are also garden advocates, always egging passersby on to start their own and even hauling his tiller around to show them how to use it in their yard. Anytime an “old man up on the porch,” gives him an excuse, he gives the wife a big helping of vegetables and gives the husband a little of the same ornery challenge that Lloyd gave him years ago.