Category: Memories

Lee May, a gentle voice I will miss.

Cancer has silenced a gentle voice, that of Lee May, a man with a designer’s eye, a sense of place, and gifted words that conveyed his vision and awareness.

I only had a casual acquaintance with Lee through our shared love of gardening and writing, and our once-shared town. But a casual acquaintance is all one needed to appreciate Lee’s gifts. His words speak to a gardener’s soul in ways that reach those of us who must work our hands in soil, who paint nature using a pallet of plants and found materials. (I use the word speak in the present tense since, fortunately, Lee’s garden writings did not disappear with him. His blog, Lee May’s Gardening Life, remains.)

As a gardener, Lee created landscapes that were uniquely him … no lawn, lots of rock of all shapes and sizes, garden rooms, and unusual features that caught one’s attention.

His Big Momma’s Garden, on the Connecticut acreage he once oversaw, exuded Lee’s love of whimsy and his southern roots. Don’t just go by the photos below or those he shared in A Tribute to Big Momma’s Garden … read his words. His descriptions make his gardens so much richer.

Lee willingly toiled in his outdoor spaces, doing much by hand and sweat-equity. He understood that working in one’s garden brings a greater knowledge of the forces at play – light and shadow, wind and water, natures creatures, the seasons – and how each force works to create space. Lee studied his landscape while outside in it and from within his home so he could create views and venues that pleased his eye in all seasons. Yet, he recognized that gardeners are merely small designers; that Mother Nature always has the last say.

I cannot speak to other aspects of Lee’s personality though, through our few shared encounters, his warmth, love of his wife Lyn, his appreciation of living life fully, and his genuine attention to each human encounter, was more than evident. I can only speak to Lee’s passion for gardening. It was a passion that spoke to me, and it is this conversation that I will miss.

Please take time to appreciate Laurrie’s view of Lee’s Connecticut garden and, do yourself a favor, read through Lee’s blog for a glimpse at his passion for gardening, and for life.

Sowing the love of gardening.

My Gram helped sow my love of gardening. It is of her hollyhocks, towering above my little girl’s head, that I bring up my earliest memory of a flower. It was with her that I sowed my first seeds – if my memory is correct they were marigolds. It was under her tutelage that I planted my first tomato.

Gram left this life 15 years ago, but I can still hear her voice say my name. It was hollyhocks that I planted in her memory. They first bloomed on the first anniversary of her passing. Gram was saying hello.

My favorite photo of Gram and me.

My favorite photo of Gram and me.

Later in her life, when we no longer lived close to each other, I shared my gardens with her through letters. She loved hearing how I carried on her tradition of planting flower and vegetable gardens. Being from farm stock, growing and preserving her own food was simply part of what she did. She passed to me her love of planting, tending to, harvesting, and eating home-grown produce, as well as freezing or canning produce that is home- or locally-grown.


Avery gathering dandelions, spring 2013

The most fitting tribute I can possibly give Gram is to pass on the love of gardening she and I shared  to my granddaughter. Avery already identifies flowers in bloom, picks whatever blossom she is permitted, and loves to eat strawberries and peas right out of the garden.

Gram helped sow her love of gardening in me; I help sow it in Avery. And, if fate allows and I’m as good a grandmother to Avery as Gram was to me, Avery will help sow a love of gardening in her grandchild/ren.

Generation to generation to generation … in thanks for my Gram.


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