Sam’s Wonderful World
By Kelli Reilly
Sacramento is a city known for its trees. The neighborhood of River Park, however, may also soon be known for its flowers thanks to a lifelong resident named Sam Reilly. Take a drive or stroll down Monalee Avenue, Sam’s street, and it will be hard not to notice the beautiful and colorful array of blossoms he has created in his front yard. You will see roses, lilies, gardenias, pansies, bougainvilleas, azaleas, impatiens, and many others.
Sam is 15 years old and first became interested in gardening and flowers while watching his grandfather, Richard Reilly, planting and tending to his own front yard garden. His interest in flowers never fully came out until last year. Growing up, Sam tried different sports including soccer and basketball as well as music through piano and singing lessons, but nothing that he tried lasted too long. Sam seemed bitten by the gardening bug last year, and since then he has flourished with planting flowers and loves to learn the different names of each bloom and how best to grow them, whether in direct or indirect sunlight, or how much water they need. He also takes pride in caring for his lawn and trees, which include a sycamore and two Japanese maples, one of which his other grandfather planted who recently passed away at age 91.
The neighbors have quickly taken notice and some have even hired Sam to plant flowers for them in their own garden. Sam has had other mentors besides his grandfathers, including his neighbor Carol who has given him pointers on how to prune and care for his plants, and he has been given much encouragement by his family members.
You will often see Sam outside around dusk watering his flowers, trimming his trees or mowing his lawn. He also has quite a collection of garden statues and solar lights, so if you pass by at night you will see a lovely light display lining his flower beds. He looks forward to the summer when he can have more time to start planting and designing his backyard flower garden.
When asked how flower gardening makes Sam feel, he quickly replies, “It makes me feel calm. I will look around at my garden and I can hear the song “What a Wonderful World” playing in my head. Flowers make me happy.”