Sunday, March 22, 2009

In The Garden of Memories

Having just recently moved into my first home, I was finally able to plant in the earth instead of the clay pots and containers crammed onto my apartment balcony. I had no idea that digging in the soil would take me back to my

childhood memories of helping my mother work in the garden of the Connecticut home where I grew up.

It was a beautiful sunny day. A light breeze brought wafts of earthy fragrance mixed with the sweet aroma of some mysterious bloom in my new garden. It was the day I was planting pansies, a childhood favorite that my mother and I both loved. I selected a spot in the front yard where their purple and yellow ‘faces’, as my mother referred to them, would be visible to all passersby. 

I cautiously removed a clump of soil with my brand new trowel, startled and pleased to find earthworms, something you rarely find in container gardening. As I set the dirt aside, I heard my mother reminding me to sprinkle some bone meal into the hole for the new plant to grow strong and healthy. It was as if she were beside me, both of us kneeling on the soft grass, looking over at each other and sharing a smile.

As a child I was so impressed that she knew how far apart to space the plants, how much bone meal to put in the freshly dug hole and when and how much to water. I remember thinking how smart she was and admiring her for knowing just what to do. 

Now that I'm reading garden books cover to cover, I'm beginning to acquire that knowledge for myself, but the best advice comes when I'm in the garden and listen quietly for my mother's guidance. With each new hollow I created I’d always ask her if it was deep enough
and far enough apart from the planting next to it. She’d look over as I eagerly awaited her approval before putting the pansy from the plastic pack into the ground, certain that if she gave the okay, it would grow strong and healthy. ‘Perfect’, she would declare, and I quickly and ever so gently would remove the budding pansy from the tray and place it in the soil. 

Each morning and evening we’d visit the flowers and if they looked thirsty, give them a drink of water. What a sense of accomplishment it was to plant in the garden with my mother and watch the flowers grow strong and healthy, just like she said they would.

Back in my own garden, I’ve now tackled the bulbs that my mother and I would plant. Having lost my mother ten years ago to cancer, I am so looking forward to the visits we will have year after year in my garden. I will welcome the sweet scent of memory each spring as the daffodils, crocus and tulips arrive and I greet these childhood friends and accept their invitation to remember gardening as a girl
with my mother.

- END -

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