Tag Archives: memory plant

Wednesday With Words—Daffodils

The first daffodils began opening this week at pbmGarden. Their appearance reminded me of something I recorded a few years back, so the following is adapted from a previous post (Daffodils. February 15, 2013. https://pbmgarden.blog/2013/02/15/daffodils/)

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

I grew up inside a small town in the rural south, surrounded by fields of cotton, tobacco, corn and soybeans. Driving away from town with my family to visit relatives on Sundays, riding past these fields, nearly every house I would see for miles and miles at this time of year had a clump or two of dancing yellow daffodils, announcing spring.

As one would expect time has altered this bucolic landscape. Driving in the countryside nowadays past these old homesites, there is evidence of past lives. With owners having died out, many of these old homesteads now sit abandoned. Heirs perhaps found jobs elsewhere and live too far away to maintain the homes, yet they keep memories alive by holding onto the property. Or perhaps they await better offers from the developers.

Regardless, often the land sits idle. Even if the buildings are long gone, there almost always remains a towering oak tree beside where the house once stood, and nearby, a patch of daffodils.

One spring along a familiar stretch of road that my husband and I had travelled for many years, I pointed out to him just such an old homesite.

I had never known who once had lived there, but the cheerful daffodils blooming near the old drive were a sight I knew to expect and to watch for.

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

Viewed from a car window those flowers had greeted me annually for decades, as they must have welcomed home the family that once inhabited the property.  I haven’t travelled that road in a while, but that season I was not disappointed.

Intrigued, my husband wrote this poem.

Daffodils

Within this clearing rife with weeds,
No homely headstones stand askew,
But daffodils in patches tell
That here once worked a hand, a heart,
And there once stood a house, a home.

No headstones set this ground apart,
But daffodils in patches tell
Of heart and home as sure as bones.

(DVM, v.G, April 2007)

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

What flowers do you notice as markers of past existence?

A Rose For Mother’s Day

My grandmother and mother grew this rose and every spring I look forward to its appearance in my own garden. The rose of my childhood, my family used to wear this rose each year on Mother’s Day Sunday.

Virgie's Old-fashioned Rose

Virgie’s Old-fashioned Rose

It was Virgie, my mother’s first cousin and my gardening mentor, who passed along this rose to me, soon after I was married. The rose grew at my previous Wave Road garden and when we moved a few miles away to our current location, my daughter valiantly helped me fight thorns and dig roots so we could bring the rose to our new home.

[I shared a piece with my daughter when she and her new husband moved into their own home, one of many things that did not fit into the back of a station wagon when they later moved to California—yet I loved that she grew it for a time.]

VIrgie's Old-fashioned Rose

VIrgie’s Old-fashioned Rose

Virgie contributed not only this rose, but numerous other things that still thrive in my garden: Dusty Miller, Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant), Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea).

Other plants I have had to replace, but that she taught me to love are Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’, Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William).

One I regret leaving behind is Calycanthus fluorides (Carolina spicebush, eastern sweetshrub). Several gardens on last week’s garden tour featured sweetshrub.

So, anyway a tribute to family and to a family rose on Mother’s Day.

Virgie's Old-fashioned Rose

Virgie’s Old-fashioned Rose

Repeating A Garden Ritual

Vintage Flower Clippers

Vintage Flower Clippers

My husband recalls from elementary school being assigned to write a paper on the subject of grandmother’s hands. Too bad his original manuscript is lost to posterity, but it fascinates me he occasionally remembers that particular, somewhat sentimental, title.

Grandmother’s hands popped into my head yesterday when I was out in the garden performing a ritual of sorts.

Gladiolus After A Rain

Gladiolus After A Rain

Many a summer morning as a child I followed behind my maternal grandmother as she picked up her clippers from a shelf and headed to her cutting garden.

There among her neat rows of gladioli in assorted colors, I would helpfully point out the ones I thought she should select (probably any with a sliver of red), but like the kitchen, the cutting garden really was her purview and hers alone.

She would gather into her apron the flowers with blooms that were sufficiently open and would bring them back indoors to lovingly arrange.

I realized last year I have ended up with my maternal grandmother’s flower clippers and it occurred to me to take a photograph of them sometime.

Finally yesterday morning I went a step further. Following a heavy rain the night before, a few gladioli stood in need of rescue.

Gladioli

Gladioli

I retrieved my grandmother’s clippers from a shelf in the garage. There were three flower stalks and with each solemn cut I made a conscious connection, a pleasant one, back to my childhood.

Gladioli and Vintage Flower Clippers

Gladioli and Vintage Flower Clippers

And there it was—stuck in my head—my husband’s essay topic, grandmother’s hands. How many times had my grandmother’s hands held these little clippers, I wondered. How many times had she slipped the latch to free the blades?

Vintage Flower Clippers Belonged to Maternal Grandmother

Vintage Flower Clippers Belonged to Maternal Grandmother

The clippers made clean cuts after all these years and brought back nice memories. They are back on the shelf now, the clippers and the memories. Their heft I still feel in my own hand.

Gladioli and Vintage Flower Clippers

Gladioli and Vintage Flower Clippers

So grandmother’s hands? The writing prompt I best remember from early high school is A Red Leaf Takes A Tumble. Fortunately my effort on that is also one lost to posterity but I know I enjoyed exploring it. Do you have a favorite assigned writing topic?

Iris Musings

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

The first irises began opening over the last several days marking a major milestone as spring travels though my garden. This yellow Iris germanica (Bearded iris) is always among the first iris to bloom each year.  It is a special pass-along from my friend and  former neighbor, Henrietta.

Years ago Henrietta grew beautiful bearded iris her mother had obtained from a friend who grew them for a local florist. One July she divided them and sent her son to all the nearby homes to deliver copious quantities of leftover rhizomes. As a young working mother gardening was not a big part of my life then and I left the plastic bag outdoors for weeks without really giving much thought to the treasure within.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

 

Eventually I did plant them, but didn’t understand not to bury the rhizome, so the next spring they failed to bloom. My friend assured me they would bloom the next year, which they did, and they have bloomed every year since.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)-2

I brought some of these irises to my current garden nearly thirteen years ago and when the stalks emerge and fat buds form, when the first tip of color is revealed and finally the inflorescence follows, the irises feel like comfortable companions, old friends getting together again after a long time apart.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Henrietta and I stayed in touch after she moved away from the old neighborhood, but sadly one year her Christmas card was returned unopened and I have never known an ending to the story. A nice thing about pass-alongs is the way they keep relationships and memories going.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris) is another pass along plant from another special family friend. When my garden was on a small local garden tour in the neighborhood last year, everyone who stopped by marveled at it and I passed along many bags of rhizomes.

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

One of the few irises I have actually purchased, Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush,’ was added to the garden March 2012. It is among the first to bloom.

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’ is another iris I purchased and have always enjoyed. Its batik markings are pretty unusual.

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

On a side note I have grown this Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) several years now. It spent the winter in the garage without attention. I moved it to the back screen porch a month ago and gave it a drink or two of water. There is only one flower head on this stalk and only one stalk. Several more amaryllis are planted in the garden. They are making slow progress toward flowering but this one looks promising.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

 

 

In A Vase On Monday—Cornus Florida

 

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood

I am joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to create a floral arrangement from materials gathered in one’s own garden. This week I have chosen to feature the native Cornus florida (flowering dogwood).

Responding to the week’s sunshine and warm temperatures, the petal-like bracts of Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) are almost fully opened, though the actual yellow-green flower heads, contained in the dense central cluster, remain tightly closed.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

On Saturday, as I weeded nearby the dogwood, I became more and more aware of its seasonal beauty and I began imagining how it would look indoors. Though I have never cut dogwood for an arrangement before, I thought it might work perfectly in a set of tall pastel vases given me by one of my sisters. I collected three branches on Sunday and assembled the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday-Flowering Dogwood-2

Because I needed to trim the three branches further in order to sit them in the vases properly I ended up with some leftover stems. For these I found a ceramic vase with a small mouth that helped hold these remainders straight. The earthy brown glaze and heaviness of the pottery piece contrasts greatly with the shape and height of the three pale-colored glass vases. Though not part of the original design this vase became an important component in the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday-Flowering Dogwood-3

Using branches of varying heights as well as the airiness of the flowering branches themselves combine to create a sense of movement in the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday-Flowering Dogwood5

When I was a child my father instilled in me a fondness for dogwoods by making them the backdrop for family photographs at Easter. He had planted a dogwood in each corner of our front yard and many a spring my sisters and I posed in front of one particular white flowering tree, squinting at the sun in our pastel dresses and white gloves, patent leather shoes and Easter hats. So this week when the dogwoods started filling the neighborhoods and roadsides it really seemed like spring.

In A Vase On Monday-Flowering Dogwood-4

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.