Monday, June 4, 2012

Heritage Plants

As I tentatively re-enter the world of blogging, I thought we could start where I have been spending most of my time lately: the Gardens.
Our home is a little cottage on a two acre lot and while it's an old house with many needed fixes it came with the most beautiful gardens I could possibly imagine.

Before I delve into the treasure that is my garden, I thought I would give you a brief understanding of the importance of plants in my life.
One day a young father told me he was off to get his girls their spring pedicures. I looked at him blankly. He was surprised at my response and said "Don't you get your spring pedicure every year?! Isn't that a thing all you girls do to prepare for flipflop season?!" I looked back at him blankly. I didn't know why this question surprised me so much, since it is not unthinkable or illogical to splurge on a pedicure before revealing your little toes to the world each year. The realization hit me as mother's day rolled around and I thought of my mom. The Spring manicure and pedicure I had grown accustomed to involved every single nail bed being generously coated in a thick dark rich dirt. Spring means getting out the "old" pair of sneakers. The ones with no arch and the hole in the front toe. Throwing on that old pair of jeans with grass stains down the front and holes in the knees. Tossing your unkept hair in a sloppy pony tail or under an old baseball hat. Slathering on some sunscreen and bugspray and getting down on your hands and knees to til the old soil and weathered beds to make them new again. The coming of spring meant GARDENING.

I grew up with my mother's stories of growing up in upstate NewYork. How they bought a house there that had been used as a dump by the previous owners. They cleaned every trash heep and made it a garden. The way she described their treasured home always made me think of something out of a movie. The great pond stocked with fish and ducks and the large Weeping Willow protecting it from the warm sun. She had endless stories about growing up there and how she cut fresh flowers in the morning and scattered them in vases all around their home. 
Later my grandparents moved to the mountains in Pennsylvania and began a new life there. My mother always said it couldn't compare to their old home, but to us it was magic. Acres of land with a dug pond and fresh springs, sweet peas, blue flag irises, bull frogs, grapes, and everything you can imagine.
When I think of my grandmother I think of roses. She always had a rose garden. My grandfather was quite the gardener as well. He knew the best way to make grape jelly was to mix his Concord grapes with wild grapes so you had the perfect combination of sweet and tart. He also was an avid blueberry picker and could come home with 10 buckets to my 1.

A couple years ago and after my grandfather's passing, my grandmother decided she needed to pack her bags and move to NH to live with my uncle. She left behind their motel that had been sold years ago, their pond that was dug by my grandfather, her rose gardens, my grandpa's grapes, their peach tree, and so much more on their enourmous lot in the mountains. My mother and I seemed to have more memories associated with the gardens than anything in the house.While family members sifted through her furniture, china, etc. to collect their cherished memories of the old house, my mother, aunt, and I rooted through the gardens digging up numerous plants and throwing them into plastic bags with the addition of some dirt. Among my memories I collected a bleeding heart, knockout rose, and even a Helleborus dumetorum or what Grandma called "the Irish plant." It has a subtle beauty and is one of the first blooms after the dismal days of February and March.

 They had an enormous variety of Irises and I grabbed quite a few. Last year they were still recouperating from the transplant so this year the great reveal took place. I couldn't recall what I had gathered that day in the frenzy of packing, moving, and digging. This year I was met with an amazing surprise, PURPLES. Ever aesthetically minded, I had selected 3 varieties of purple irises and when they bloomed this year I was instantly in love.With each bloom I thought of my Grandpa, lover of nature, explorer, and gardener.

They are a perfect compliment to my blue flag Irises.
I have 3 varieties that came with the house and though they take the majority of one of my beds I can't imagine parting with any of them! They are very low maintenance and look like grasses when their season ends.

I also relocated my Grandma's knock out  rose to my main garden beds this year.
Of course as soon as it bloomed I saw that it's bright pink color (that I love) didn't match anything else. So I made an emergency trip to the greenhouse and picked up some complementary pinks. 
I also added some Rasberry Wine Bee Balm this year that should compliment all these when it blooms.
Here is my gardener in training riding next to my new Bee Balm.

Do you enjoy to garden or fear that you have a black thumb? What role do plants play in your family history?

1 comment:

  1. Dearest daughter,
    I am forever grateful for this heritage that has been passed down from my grandmother, mother,and father to me. You have inspired me to write down these memories, because one of my dad's concerns was that we might "lose the original seeds" of the plants that have been planted for generations. Thank you for caring and sharing something that has been precious to our family... i'm excited to start sharing my memories as a way of preserving this splendid occupation~ gardening.
    ~ wendy/mom


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