Gardeners nurture memories in yards filled with meaning

    Memories are built into our yard. A clump of white hyacinths brought this home to me over the weekend. They were a hostess gift brought to a spring party nearly 20 years ago. The flowers are probably half the size of florist hyacinths, but the sweet perfume is the same. I wasn’t sure they’d survive when I put them in the ground, but they’ve grown faithfully. I suspect many gardens are like mine ­— filled with plants that tell a story of family and friendship.
    The little violet irises flowering by the street are from the garden of my neighbor’s mother. Her husband brought them over many years ago along with a start of rhubarb from his father’s garden. His dad’s ostrich ferns followed the next year. All have thrived and been shared with other gardeners.

The climbing roses in the arbor out back are starts from another friend who got it from her mother.

It only blossoms once a year, but when it does it’s loaded with cascades of little pink roses.

In my tiny woods, the bloodroot has sported little white blossoms for weeks and the hypatica is just starting to flower.

Next to them is short meadow rue, and yellow wood violets will pop up soon.

All of them came from a friend’s woods.

The red and white baneberry in the same bed has spread from two plants provided by my gardening buddy Pat, and our jack-in-the-pulpits are Wild Ones rescues from the woodland cleared to build the Home Depot in Grafton.

The gooseberries are about to flower.

I traded a cutting from our black fig tree for them.

We have irises from fellow Garden Club members and roses my husband started from seed.

There are hostas we brought up from Kansas City and primroses from my sister-in-law’s old farm.

A peony out front was a gift when I heard Roy Klehm speak.

It was a favorite of this noted plantsman, so he provided one for everybody in the audience.

It’s the first peony to bloom each year, and each year I think he was correct about its beauty until Fiesta Maxima, another start from a neighbor’s garden, opens.

The Meyer lilac nearby is a gift from the same gardeners.

It arrived as a tiny twig and is now about 5 feet tall and 5 wide and full of flower buds.

Their house has changed hands and the parent lilac is gone and so is the peony.

But both are going strong here, and so is the memory of the neighbors’ generosity.

Memories separate yard maintainers from a gardeners.

Gardeners cart home cuttings from mom and dad’s or grandma’s house.

They plant Arbor Day seedlings that come home from school with their kids and trees to mark family births and deaths and nurture each one with care.

They exchange divisions with neighbors and grow things from seed.

Maintainers mow and add mulch to the empty spot if a plant dies and then complain they have to waste time doing yard work on the weekends.

Whether they’re “good doers” we later curse as they spread across the garden or heirlooms we later crow over, each plant means something to a true gardener.

Our gardens record our histories and we remember friends and family when we work in them, each plant and flower eliciting a memory.

    

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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