The heirlooms in my garden 6



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A beautiful flower bloomed in my garden yesterday, a stunning red hippeastrum. It was the same flower that my grandmother used to grow in her garden. In fact it is from the same plants, which I transplanted to my own garden when my parents sold her house after she and my grandfather passed away. Gardening was her thing… and hippeastrums were her specialty so it is special to me to see them bloom each year. Perhaps sentimentally, they really bring her back into my life every time they do even though she died more than 15 years ago.

I’ll bet many of you have similar things growing in your garden that have their own special stories… Heirlooms from your life or lives gone by that have been left behind and that, when they come to life bring your memories alive.

Year after year, in the spring, these flowers bloom in my garden, and after 10 years in this house, there is heaps of them, strewn from corner to corner. We take care to pollenate them, catch the seeds as they fall and plant them somewhere else in the garden, every single year. As a child, my grandmother, who was a botanist, took great pride in teaching me how to pollenate these beautiful lilies, carefully dusting the stigma with the dust that stains hands, clothes and anything else it touches, and now I do it with my own children. Hopefully these flowers will be special to them one day.

Over the years of childhood we would experiment with them too. We’d take a thumbful of pollen from a red hippie and combine it with the pollen from a white hippie and remember where we planted it to see what the colour would do the following year. These experiments were terrific fun for me and for my grandma and provide me with the most beautiful memories now.

It is not the formal meaning of the term but it seems so simple. Perhaps you are like my mother-in-law who has a rose that she got a cutting of a sister-in-law that died too young from cancer. And year after year she prunes it, fertilises it and cares for it. These plants are oh so much more special for the memories they have attached to them.

Every now and then, when I am showing my kids the pollination process, I wonder whether many children still get this type of education? With the advent of computer games will they ever know what the flowers smell like and how to pollenate them outside of a textbook? So today I want to ask you two things:

1) Do you have a plant in your garden that acts as a special heirloom, or memory-creator each time it blooms? – tell us about it today or you could even share a picture.

2) Do you teach your grandchildren and children about it, so it can perpetuate its heirloom status in your family?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I too have a Hippiastrum which is now in pots at my rental property.My Father first created this plant and when my late husband and I left Sydney in 1981 to move to brisbane and start our life in Queensland we bought 2 plants with us.We plante in our first Qld house and when we moved we took to the next house and then to next one.The last house we owned I also took two plants and they are just coming out in flower now.

  2. I always take cuttings from my mothers garden to bring a little bit of my mother back into my life 🙂 I have planted a jacaranda tree in the garden of each house I have lived in.

    1 REPLY
    • I always plant a jacaranda at each house I live in but always seem to move before they bloom.

  3. I have hippies that were my grandmothers and also clivia and a hoya that would have to be 100 years old.

    1 REPLY
    • Wow! That’s good going. Your green thumbs have obviously been inherited as well.

  4. I have inherited my Grandmother’s Hippeastrums as well.
    My grandsons therefore see the blooms handed down from their great-great grandmother.
    I would like to know when to move the bulbs.
    They have green leaves all year and have multiplied but I’m too scared of losing them to divide and replant. I’m in Queensland so what time of the year do I do this?
    Anybody know?

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