Looking Back

Looking Back: Blossoms make memories

Flowering trees are beginning to bud and perennial flowers are starting to poke their heads through the dirt. These brave souls endured a really frigid winter and will soon wow us with their tenacity.

Many of the annual blossoms in our yard have a meaningful connection to people in my life. I welcome the memories that are rekindled as they come into bloom.

Since I live in the house that my parents bought 70 years ago, I get to enjoy a beautiful lilac bush planted by my father back in 1944. The bush is bent over due to age as well as the ravages of winter ice and snow. But in spite of its challenges, it puts on a great show each spring.

As the season progresses I get to enjoy the cream-colored hydrangeas, also planted by my father. They have been divided and given to many people over the years.

I was in my forties when I began to take an interest in gardening. Until then I was content to let the plants and bushes on our property stay as they had always been. That philosophy changed when my neighbor Eleanor asked me if I would like some perennial flowers that she had divided. Little did I know that it was the start of a “memory collection” that has become very special to me especially as time goes by.

By accepting Eleanor’s perennials, I started down a path of getting plants from other neighbors who saw me working in the garden. Some people were nice enough to give me plants that had markers showing their names and whether they liked shade or sun.

We used to have a neighbor, Ethel, who always “told it like it was.” She stopped one day to tell me that my garden had too much yellow and white. The next day she showed up on her old-fashioned bicycle with pink perennials in her handlebar basket. A generous amount of mallow and phlox were soon a part of my garden. Ethel passed away a few years ago but her plants live on!

I also have peonies that belonged to my Aunt Nora. Before her house was sold, I dug up some shoots to place in our yard. Not only do I get to enjoy them each spring, but her daughter Loyola, now in her 90s, also gets a reminder of her mother and her home when she sees the peonies in bloom.

I am grateful to my neighbor Marge, who asked me if I needed any plants for a shade garden. I didn’t have such a thing when she asked but as you might guess, it was hard for me to turn down an offer of plants! She gave me some beautiful pink columbine and I began digging my shade garden. Once the neighbors found out what I was up to I was on the receiving end of various hostas. It was time to enlarge the shade garden!

Over the next several years, I divided my perennials and created new gardens. By the time I was finally smart enough to stop doing this I had a total of 13 gardens! I decided it was time to be content enjoying the ones I had.

I still love every minute that I spend in the garden. I cherish the memories of the thoughtful people who shared their flowers with me. For those who are no longer living, the blossoms I enjoy each summer are a reminder of how special these people were. I have a hobby that is more like a passion, and we all need that in our lives.

You will understand exactly what I mean when it’s your turn to look back on the history of your garden.

Enjoy the journey and the blooms!

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