I love flowers. However, I was never interested in gardening. My mom was an avid gardener. My earliest memories are of her working in her garden.
When I was growing up, my brothers and sisters and I were given chores in the backyard. I remember after my dad had mowed the lawn, we were instructed to trim around the flower beds where the lawn mower could not reach. We would grumble and do as we were asked. Sure, we had a pool and swing set in our backyard, but those were just something else we had to trim around.
We also enjoyed rides to the park or beach, but they would end with us kids helping to gather rocks or driftwood or some other treasure for Mom's garden. Ha! I would think, that's why they really brought us here.
In my teens, when Mom would mention something new about her garden or a flower that may have bloomed, I would roll my eyes. I was just interested in going out with my friends. Did she not see that I did not share her interest in the garden?
My husband and I made a deal when we moved into our house: I would take care of the inside and he would talk care of the outside. Thank goodness, I thought. I did not want to be out there digging in the dirt with all those bugs. Yuck!
When Mom would visit, she would bring us a plant for the inside of our house or outside. She would give me instructions on how to take care for the indoor plants and I would do my best not to kill them. Mom and my husband would then talk about the garden. He would ask her questions about certain flowers or plants, and I would notice how much she enjoyed these conversations.
Mom had flowers, trees and bushes in the front of her house. In her backyard, she had flowers along the back, sides, in front of the deck, and in hanging planters around the deck. When I would visit her, we would walk around the yard, and she would tell me the names of all the flowers. I could never seem to remember them all and would say, "Oh, you mean the blue one," or "Oh, the purple one." We would sit on her deck and watch the birds that visited the bird feeder and bird bath. There was also a bench in her backyard where we would often sit and talk.
Her grandchildren enjoyed playing in her backyard, and in those gardens they were delighted to find toads, crickets or grasshoppers jumping around. There was a large weeping willow tree they liked to climb. Many family events took place there: wedding pictures, a baby shower, birthdays and picnics.
My mother died three years ago, and the memories of her garden are the ones I treasure the most. I found the following verse, from a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney, that Mom had kept:
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden,
Than anywhere else on Earth.
This poem made me think of how much she enjoyed her garden. Gardening for her was not just a hobby, it was relaxing and a time for thought and reflection.
My sister and I took pieces of her garden and planted them in our gardens. When I visit my sister, I notice flowers in her family's garden that once bloomed in Mom's garden. My niece showed me pictures of my mother's garden that she keeps on her Facebook page, and I realized how much it touched each of us.
I found myself recently helping my husband pull weeds from our garden. I can now recognize a weed from a flower, and I know many of the flowers' and plants' names.
Someone even recently told me I must have a green thumb! I guess Mom made a gardener out of me after all.