My garden is blossoming with hippeastrums this week, and the colour, happiness and life they bring to our home is so much more than just a flower. They are the memory of someone very special. In fact, the week that the hippeastrums go into bloom in my garden is the week my Grandmother who has been gone for more than 15 years effectively “comes to visit” my family. I think we all know the feeling from our gardens. Each of us have cuttings from long gone friends or relatives or roses that are in memory of a loved one that we treasure when they bloom, and today I want to talk about how special it is and hear about yours.
My Grandmother was a botanist. She spent a lot of my childhood influencing my love of nature and people, teaching me how to pollenate the flowers in our garden so they would give us seeds for the next season. She showed us how to propagate cuttings so we could share our beautiful plants with friends, and she showed us how to care for the garden. Throughout my childhood my grandmother had hippeastrums with a long family history. Her father was a botanist too, so the familial love of plants goes a long way back.
When I was a child, about 6-8 years old, we would wait for the day lillies to bloom so Grandma could teach me something about genetics. Once each flower had shown its colours, we would start “mixing our colours” to create different tinted flowers for the next year. We would take the pollen from the red flowers, and put them on the white flowers stamens, mounting a little sign underneath so we knew when they seeded what to expect. Then, we’d collect the seeds when they dropped and sow them for the next year with the sign, waiting patiently to see what type of flower was born.
My grandmother passed away 18 years ago, my grandfather 12 years ago, and as the family went to sell the house that had been in my lineage for 104 years, I got nostalgic for the memories of those beautiful flowers. So I took some buckets and spades and went to the house, dug out all the hippeastrum bulbs and took them to my house. Every time I moved through the early years of my marriage, I dug them out and planted them in my new garden. Now I live in my “always home” the flowers have been in place for more than 10 years and each year, when they bloom my heart aches for my grandma who was such an enormous influence on my childhood. In fact, I took my seven year old son out to the garden today and show him how to pollenate them all so they can just keep on shedding more and more seeds that will be able to be spread throughout the garden.
My mother in law has similar collection of garden memories. One rose is named after ‘Grandad’, an apricot flower that brings warmth every year. Another, the miniature roses that climb up her trellis are from the birth of her first grandchild.
Do you have garden memories that bloom and bring love from people around you? Do you propagate and pollenate your flowers? Tell us your stories today.