Have you ever wondered why you love the flowers, shrubs, trees that you do? I have been thinking a lot about it lately.
I woke up with this morning a bit cranky. This past weekend I was pretty sick, so now I am getting over the last of it. This would include an annoying tickle in my throat I can’t shake. Next to me as I type, a cup of hot green tea with honey cools down for my irritated throat.
Still grouchy, I brought my cereal with me into the sunroom, and the light was just beginning to pour in. My large planter was popping with color, the birds were singing, and yet I still couldn’t let go of the negativity.
My garden puppy, Coach, and I went outside for the morning “look” and “see”. As usual there was something new to see or something to admire, and a smile came back to my face. A few things I have been watching in anticipation is my Hydrangeas and Gardenias. I have seen these plants bloom many times elsewhere, but not from shrubs that my hands planted at a home that was mine.
This is the same for my Antique Roses. They are still small and I watch impatiently for new growth each day. Some time ago I started to notice that there was a lot of pressure building for these plants to grow. Just a few in particular and I wondered why they mattered so much.
I have always loved roses, but my first experience with them was in my mother’s garden. They would bloom every spring. My mother drove me to school until I was in the 4th grade. If she noticed a new beautiful rose bud had opened, she would say, “Wait, let’s cut this for you to take to school to give to your teacher.” She would go back in the front door and come out with a moistened paper towel to wrap around the bottom of the freshly cut stem.
After this memory came, many more fluttered by and made me realize why I love some other plants. Whenever I see a Magnolia blossom I think of my Grandpa. On my grandparents property they had a gigantic Magnolia tree that I played under for countless hours. I can still hear the distinctive sound their leaves make when you walk on them. I remember when one of my second cousins was very little, my Grandpa gave her a Magnolia blossom as a gift. Did I mention this was my mother’s father? Traditions carry on.
The next plant I am to mention is a vine…a very vigorous vine. It’s one that I absolutely loved as a child, but now as a hoticulturalist I know that it’s actually not considered a “good” plant. On Easter day it would be so full of blooms that it was impossible for them to go unnoticed in my grandmother’s garden. It caught so much attention that it’s beauty lured my cousin and I underneath it. It seemed like a perfect spot to enjoy our treasured eggs from the hunt. Not candy, our eggs were the real thing…hard-boiled. Just as we felt like garden fairies the bees let us know we were on their turf and we ran away screaming! Even though I know it’s an invasive I still find it pretty and its perfume intoxicating. Did you guess wisteria?
I know it may shock many to know that I don’t really care for Amaryllis. It’s never sparked my fancy. However, whenever I do see one I immediately think of my Grandma. They were her favorite. Probably every member of the family has the picture of her holding a red blooming stem while standing in the middle of a sea of red and white. Another one I associate with Grandma is the Camellia. Even though the houses have been torn down and all that remains is an overgrown empty lot, I can still see the huge Camellia japonica that once divided the house from the Bait & Tackle shop. I ran around it, played hide and go seek, and now it is a reminder of what was once there as I pass by in my car.
Someone that taught me my first lessons about gardening is my Aunt Ginny (short for Virginia). Her garden is very impressive. She has quite the skill for propagating almost anything. The one thing that I must have in my garden because I just couldn’t stop looking at them in her garden is Tiger Lilies. They seem so delightful to me. She gave me seeds once, but told me it could be a few years before they bloom. I never planted them…couldn’t wait that long.
Coming back to the Hydrangea and the Gardenia, I know what my first encounters were with them, but I don’t think that encouraged my love for them. My mother had a Gardenia bush, that her mother had given her, but it was planted in sand and in the blazing sun. It never looked good and sparsely flowered. My childhood friend that was my neighbor had Hydrangeas in front of her house (that my mother greatly envied), but I never really noticed them. I did have a Gardenia at a rental home that had the large rose style flowers that I would cut and put in a vase at my bedside to smell in the morning. I fell for Hydrangeas at the gardens at my college campus. I never knew there were so many different types.
Although they are fond memories of these two, my love for them seems to come from an older image in my mind. One of my favorite eras is during 1910-1920. When I visualize what would be my ideal happy place, it is on a wraparound porch in the south during this era. It’s in the summer, I sit among my family on a porch swing drinking sweet iced tea with mint eating some peach cobbler with fresh cream. It’s a lazy day. You can hear the bees buzz and slow jazz playing on the radio. You can smell sweetness of the Gardenia flowers and Hydrangea bushes that line the house are in heavy bloom. My mother believes that she lived during the time of the old West. Maybe this is my former life? It would surely explain why I am so eager to surround myself with these flowers…again.