Vines entangled in beauty of old

Surveying Jennifer Vines’ table at the Helena Farmer’s Market made me feel as if I had momentarily stepped back into more genteel Victorian times.

In her vintage apron, Jennifer stood balancing baby Elijah on her hip with children Isaac and Abigail Rose nearby ready to lend a helping hand.

“I love old things,” Jennifer said. “My grandmother had a handheld stereoscope that viewed old photos and made them 3-D that I was fascinated with when I was a child. (Now) I treasure having her marble-top tables and using her linens and aprons in my home.”

Jennifer’s interest in Victorian times began with a high school term paper on Queen Victoria.

“My appreciation of that time is that beauty was then an innate element of daily home life,” she said.

Growing up in Childersburg, Jennifer helped with the large family garden; her early morning job was to pick the tomatoes and blueberries. She developed a quick and effective technique, due to her dislike of the many very active grasshoppers springing about in the garden.

Jennifer’s husband, James, made a lasting first impression on Jennifer when he came to their college library bearing a bouquet of roses grown in his own garden. Their first date was to Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

His gift their first Valentine’s Day was a Jackson Perkins “Double Delight” rosebush.

“I thought then, this man is a keeper,” she said.

James also first introduced Jennifer to Godiva chocolates.

Her wedding gown was designed to feature a hand–embroidered front panel made of tiny bas-relief rosette clusters in a technique called silk ribbon embroidery.

The church was decorated with gardenias, hydrangeas, Queen Anne’s lace, curly willow, and of course, roses — all still favorites in their yard today. Their front doorway is charmingly framed with tiny white-flowered Confederate jasmine.

In her market booth, Jennifer offers ‘tussie-mussie’ bouquets and mini-herb gardens alongside home-canned preserves, apple butter and pickles. She is experimenting with gardenia–scented natural shampoo and lotion to add to her wares.

Look for an expanded selection in Fruit of the Vines homegrown bounty as the summer progresses — assorted veggies including tomatoes and corn and, by Abigail’s request, midget watermelons.

“Jennifer is now in her element — her creative expression is a reflection of who she is and in her heart always has been,” James said. “The reward for all her contributions is more than monetary; it is seeing her doing something that she can put her whole heart into.”