Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Remembering Mum.

Not that she's dead or anything!!
But she could've been...
It's interesting (to me at any rate) how things in the garden that people have given you remind you of that person. The best ones are the ones like these irises. They flower at this time of the year, and for the rest they're just some spiky leaves that the eye glides over. So every year they're like a nice gift that the giver has... well... given you. (What a masterly sentence that was.) Mum gave me these about four years ago, and there was a spare spot at the front of the garden bed, so I plonked them in. They've fended for themselves ever since.

When Mum was in the hospital for her quadruple bypass, it was very touch and go. Scared us all. A few weeks after that I was racing out of the front door to get to work and there were the irises in bloom. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared, and thought how lucky we were that Mum was still with us. I knew that if things had ended differently I would've been standing there sobbing at the sight of them, and I was so thankful I wasn't doing that. (I was running late, and I couldn't afford the time. Plus I was wearing mascara that day, and I would've looked a mess.)

Now they're blooming again, and they make me smile. Mum and Dad were here on the weekend, and she looked so pretty and happy in pale pink after their Bali trip. Dad was full of stories and was mucking around with the kids, and it was all good.

Other things in my garden that make me happy:
The silver birch in the front yard.
When we bought this place twelve years ago (I was still married! It seems like another life..) I mentioned to my friend Sandy that I needed to get a silver birch for the front. The house I grew up in has one, and it symbolises a home to me. The next weekend she and Andrew dropped in with a tree. It's been moved twice as we've moved power lines, but it's going strong and it's here to stay. Dad reckons that I'll regret it when it gets big enough to drop catkins in the gutters, but so far that hasn't happened yet. I'll worry about that when I'm an old lady.
The treefern in the back corner.
My friend Madeleine and I saved this from being chewed up by machinery clearing out a block for a new house. The guy wouldn't let us on the block to salvage it, so we sat on the front fence of the neighbour's and chatted while we waited for him to go. He delayed for nearly an hour, but we made friends with the other women in the street and outlasted him. It was a challenge. It was ridiculous. But fun. The fern's still alive, and I think about that afternoon every time I water it.
The big tree in the back, and the silver birch in the back.
Both gifts from Dad. The silver birch is from the one at their house, so it's a nice link from the past. (And the catkins will go in the guttering of the unit on my back fence line, so old-lady-me won't have to worry about it. The tree was there first, anyway.)
Most of the plants in the front yard.
Madeleine the mad gardener was still living here when she infected me with her obsession with the garden. I was still a SAHM at that point, so had no money, but she helped me remodel the front yard. Dad helped with SO much digging... I extended the garden beds in a curve out by metres and metres... many many metres... and Mad gave me bucketfuls of plants to put in. Most of them are still thriving, even in this drought, so she obviously knows her stuff! She's moved to an acreage in Keysborough, so I hardly ever see her anymore. We're both so busy.

Lastly, things like these freesias.
Old things that the lady who built this house and raised her family of seven kids (and people think MY family is too big for this house!) obviously planted and cared for. The garden's bones are the trees and shrubs and things that have been here before us. I like the thought that I'm carrying on with the work that she started (though I've ripped out some shocking plants... sentimentality will only carry so far....!). I love to see how far these flowers have spread each year. They smell divine. I had freesias in my wedding bouquet, and even though that didn't end well, it's still a little reminder of younger days.

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