By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – My grandfather was a gardener who came here in the early 1900’s to find a better life, like so many other people, including a man he knew, named Mr. Valentine, a fellow Italian immigrant who had a great education that he put to good use. My grandparents always said, if anyone needed help with something, such as understanding a contract, Mr. Valentine was the man to ask.

It was only recently that I realized that Mr. Valentine’s day job wasn’t in a law office, but that he’d been the course superintendent at Merion Golf Club! There, he discovered and nurtured the renowned ‘Merion bluegrass,’ pioneered new turf techniques, and became a driving force in establishing a Turfgrass Management Program at Penn State, where the Valentine Research Center honors him today.

While few of us will ever have a lawn as luxurious as a golf course, whenever we seed, fertilize, water and mow, we owe a debt of gratitude to all our forefathers, so to speak; those who have taken the time and dedication to learn so much and generously pass along what they know about how things grow.