Friday, May 1, 2009

Memorial Plants

One of the nicest things that has bloomed this week is a lilac "Miss Kim" that is growing next to the back deck. I planted it three years ago in memory of an old friend's mother. When Mitchell and I were married she painted us a watercolor picture of a lovely lavender lilac. Maybe it was a lilac lilac; I never thought of it that way before. I don't recall if she particularly liked the flowers, or if she even had one in her yard, but I always loved the picture and especially appreciated her taking the time and effort to paint it for us. So, when she died I wanted something tangible in the garden as a memorial to her - what else but a lilac? And, "Miss Kim" is a dwarf that fit the scale of the plantings around the deck. I have thoroughly enjoyed her the past two years, but this year she came into her own - covered with panicles and so fragrant! I love to walk up and down the steps to disturb the air and release the fragrance.

We have several other memorial plants. The first was a miniature rose from my aunt Agnes' garden. It is a small white white blossom, but with a tiny fleck of dark red on the bud. It never goes all the way into the flower - only on one or two outside petals - very unusual.

The old fashioned chrysanthemums came from Mitchell's mother's garden and always remind me of her. They are covered with tiny pink flowers - each only half an inch in diameter - and are nearly a ground cover most of the year. Only in the fall do they get tall before they flower.

I planted peonies to remind myself of grandmother. She adored them. I had them in our old garden and would always take her a big bouquet of them on Mother's Day. When we moved I immediately put in two and later moved them to a bigger bed where I now have about a dozen. Grandmother loved the pink ones, but I love the darker colors. Since all but two are new this year, I don't know what colors the rest will be when they bloom.

My friend Garland gave me many plants when she lived nearby. I didn't plant anything especially to remember her, but then I didn't know she would move away. I especially think of her when the white iris bloom - which was today. There are some mini ones that thrive in dry shade, so I have a lot of them, and there are some medium sized that look like Japanese iris blooms, but have a totally different foliage, so I haven't a clue what they are. I should ask her!

When Dad died I planted a Mahonia in his memory. He really loved that shrub and had offered me a "baby" off one of his several times. We had never had the opportunity to bring one of his home, so I found one. It is not doing all that well, but is hanging in for now.

Somehow memorial plants make those people seem a little closer to me. I can talk to the plants without a soul thinking that I am crazy. Odd how one can talk to one's plants and be considered "normal", but not talk to oneself - think about that for a while. If you haven't tried memorial plants, I highly recommend them - even for the living. It's a nice way to hold those you love close.

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