Memories

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-picking-dandelions,-April-2013

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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Autumn with winter frosting

The snow that five days ago covered many parts of Connecticut left striking contrasts for those who ventured into a garden. When flowers are few, foliage stands out.

Here’s a touch of autumn with a frosting of winter.

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The colors remind me of Thanksgiving dinner and how, when a little girl, I would gaze out the window on Thanksgiving morning wishfully waiting for a few snowflakes to fall.

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For Martha I shall plant peonies.

I think I shall plant peonies. I shall fill all the holes in my gardens with these delightful, sun-loving, perennial shrubs. I shall plant peonies, not because I love them – which I do – but because my friend, Martha, loved them so.

Martha Brown Kerr’s sudden passing on September 22, 2012 left a gaping hole in my heart and in the hearts of her children, her parents, her siblings and other family, as well as her many, many acquaintances and friends.

I will fill all the holes in my gardens, and try to fill the hole in my heart, with peonies because Martha loved them so.

When peony shoots push up through chilly soil each spring, I will recall Martha’s intense inquisitiveness. I will feel Martha’s love of warming sunshine as new peony leaves unfold.

As my small, annual tribute to Martha’s unflinching willingness to support people in need, I will carefully place wire supports above each emerging stalk to help them handle their growing burden.

Then I’ll watch with wonder, as each peony bud begins to swell, and recollect how Martha felt as she encouraged and watched her children grow. Martha loved them so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the peony blooms unfurl, I will see Martha’s smile. When the blossoms dance in the warm May breezes, I will hear Martha’s laugh. When a passing shower deposits reflective raindrops on peony petals, I will see the sparkle of Martha’s piercing blue eyes.

And … I will pick peony bouquets – just as Martha did for me. Peony bouquets to share a bit of Martha’s touch with others not lucky enough to have peonies to pick themselves. Martha would like that.

As remaining peony blossoms fade I will tenderly snip off each as I recall all the large and small troubles Martha and I tried to help each other prune away.

For the rest of the summer I will enjoy the steady dark green hue peony leaves maintain when given enough space and sun and breeze. For the rest of the summer the peonies will act as a backdrop for other blooms, they will help other flowers shine, just as Martha cheered on and took pleasure in the accomplishments of people she knew.

When peony leaves succumb to the chill of autumn, often squeezing out a last color hurrah of deep purple-red hues, I’ll know the memories they hold. I will understand how they shared a bit of Martha with all who gazed upon their delightful flowers and inhaled their delicious scent. I will cherish that these peonies will lie in wait all winter long, protecting memories, until spring warmth awakens them once again.

Yes, I think I shall plant peonies, but not more white ones like those I already grow.

Yes, I will plant peonies, in every shade of pink, because my friend, Martha, loved them so.

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