Helper resident cultivates smiles
|Above, Chris Diamanti clips roses in his garden. Diamanti's Helper home blooms each year with a rainbow of color from his rose bushes, brightening up the neighborhood.|
For over forty years, Chris Diamanti labored in the darkness of the coal mines.
But Diamanti always had something uplifting awaiting him at home: a beautiful garden.
Diamanti, a Helper resident of the last 57 years, makes things grow. He plants tomatoes and peppers, beets and squash. He cultivates cucumbers and brings up beans.
The highlight of his garden, however, has not been his vegetables; it is Diamanti's rose bushes that make his grounds a sight to see.
Diamanti has over 100 rose bushes adorning his yard. Orange, purple, red, yellow, white and pink are just a few of the blossoming colors that brighten the neighborhood every season.
The roses provided a contrast to the long days in the mine for Diamanti.
The Diamanti family has a deep history in mining. In 1903, Diamanti's father and two uncles arrived in Carbon County. They had immigrated from a small village outside of Athens, Greece.
According to Diamanti, his father started the Carbon Fuel mine and began to earn money so that he could send for his wife, who had remained in Greece.
Diamanti graduated from Carbon High and made coal mining his livelihood. He and his six brothers all worked in the mines at one time or another.
But at the end of the day, Diamanti always had gardening to look forward to.
Diamanti said when he first began the garden over 50 years ago, roses were a little more of an extravagance.
"Years ago if you had half a dozen flowers you were lucky," he commented. "It was a premium."
At 85, Diamanti has been retired from the mines for many years, but he said the roses made the mining more tolerable.
"After being in the drugery of the mine all day, you need something pretty; it relaxes you," Diamanti said.
Diamanti and his wife Margaret have lived in their Helper home the entire 57 years of their married life.
According to Margaret, the rose garden is mostly her husband's project, although she has a green thumb of her own.
Margaret keeps a flower garden in the backyard of the home, while Diamanti fills the side and frontyard with his roses and a large vegetable garden.
Diamanti said he has added to the bushes over the years, depending on his health. Last year, 22 new rose bushes were planted in the yard.
Diamanti often gives his roses away to cheer up others. He said they are great for birthdays, weddings, and funerals. He also takes his flowers to the sick and the old.
Helper Junior High, which is located just north of the Diamanti home, also benefits from his garden.
Diamanti always brings a bouquet of his roses over for the students and staff to enjoy, according to HJH secretary Joyce Branson.
Branson also said the school sends him an athletic schedule every year and that he never misses a game.
"He's quite the guy," Branson commented. "He is a firm supporter of the school and he never fails to bring his roses over. They are beautiful."
According to Diamanti, the family has considered moving away at times. However, they couldn't leave their beautiful flowers behind.
"You kind of get attached to them like anything else," he stated.
Diamanti said he is expecting one more bloom out of the flowers this season before the fall.
He will then cut down the bushes so that they will grow back strong in the spring.
Each spring, Diamanti prunes the excess growth and dead weight from the bushes to prepare them for another season.
Diamanti said the bushes require a lot of care, but he enjoys it.
"There is not a whole hell of a lot for an old man to do but hang around the yard," Diamanti joked. "I pass my time; it's fun."