Monday, September 24, 2012

Plants in Granny's garden


We walked in the Botanics a week or so ago and I took this picture of autumn crocuses, which aren't really crocuses at all, but colchicum speciosum. And I thought of my lovely Granny, who grew lots of these bulbs. And I also thought about the various things that are inside our heads that we probably never talk about but which are inextricably woven into our memories of people and places. For me, even as a small child, plants were endlessly interesting and the plants I knew best were those in our and my grandparents' gardens. As well as autumn crocuses, I asssociate proper spring crocuses with my grandparents' garden - yellow ones. My Granny's house faced south and I have a vivid memory of sitting on her front path - which was made up of some sort of composition material with bits of granite in it which sparkled in the sunlight - and it was warm and sunny, warmer than you'd expect in early spring, and there were bees buzzing around those yellow crocuses which grew down each side of the path. And I had nothing I needed to do, no responsibilities, no worries - I was only really aware of the garden and the crocuses and the bees and the sunshine.

At the front gate were two laburnum trees with yellow tassels blowing in the breeze in summer - again I shall always associate laburnum with my grandparents. And in various places in the garden there were lavender bushes. Granny used to cut the flowers and sew them into lavender bags which she put in between her clothes in the drawers and wardrobes, so the scent of lavender always reminds me of Granny. Also the scent of mothballs. I don't know if my children would know what mothballs smelt like: naphthelene. I suppose it's not that beautiful a scent, but to me, mothballs and lavender = Granny = happiness and security and approval.

There was a lot of Rose of Sharon in that garden, and a lilac plant whose name I don't know - the flowers are a bit laburnum-like, but the plant is much smaller. Is it herbaceous? A small shrub? I'm not sure. And in the summer, my grandfather had wire netting stretched between canes to support sweet peas. My sweet peas are never so good. Again, that scent...

And you? Do you have plant memories from childhood?



15 comments:

Lucille said...

What a lovely post. Yes plants trigger so many real memories, all associated with freedom. Snapdragons, dahlias, my father's roses, marigolds by the tomatoes, lime blossom, nasturtiums, petunias. Grandpa's lavender. I'm gone.

Jennifer said...

One of my grandmothers had a wonderfully productive garden with fruit trees and vegetables, and some pretty little purple daisies which I found out years later were called Michaelmas daisies - we called them Easter daisies because they flowered in autumn - and my other grandmother had hydrangeas, which we didn't have. And raspberries.

Fran said...

The only plant I really remember (does it count as one?) is the grapevine my Grandad had in his back garden in a long glasshouse. We used to help him squeeze the juice out so he could make wine.

Marcheline said...

My Nana (Dad's mom): Mulberries, and marigolds.

My Grammy (Mom's mom): Daylilies, and garden vegetables still hot from the sun. Oh, and snuff.

Kristin said...

My Grandfather loved Iris. When I got married my Grandmother was still alive and still living in the same house. Although my Grandfather passed away when I was just 8, Grandma gave me some of his Iris I had admired with him all those years ago. We have moved 5 times to different states since we were married but with some luck I have managed to move some of the Iris with me to each house. I always remember my very special "Pop-pop" every time I see Iris blooming.

Anonymous said...

"a lilac plant whose name I don't know - the flowers are a bit laburnum-like, but the plant is much smaller."
Wisteria, perhaps?

the veg artist said...

The wonderful smell of the old corn mill on the farm. The rose that grew arund the cowshed door, and the not unpleasant smell of the pig in the sty. Picking peas in the walled garden, and tiny wild strawberries. Being scrubbed with red Lifebouy soap at the end of the day by my Gran.

Peter CS said...

There were several plants in our childhood home that I have rarely seen since although I'm sure they are available. Phlox for example and southernwood and what our parents called montbretia, though I think it's a type of crocosmia. There were lots of lupins of various colours, but I don't see people growing those now. But roses are forever - we even had them when we lived in California.

Gina E. said...

I never knew any of my grandparents; they had either died before I was born, or lived too far away to visit. So I don't have any memories of their gardens, let alone anything else. But I do remember the garden at home when I was a child. Dad had several fruit trees in the back yard as well as a vegie patch, and the front yard was full of flowers. His favourites were pansies, iceland poppies, snapdragons, and irises. We had an enormous lemon tree out the back that had lemons all year round, so our neighbours and the local hospital were well supplied with lemons for years.

love those cupcakes said...

Where I grew up no-one had a garden. But I remember the scented geraniums ny dad had in pots in the shop we lived in. The smell from them was glorious.

Thimbleanna said...

Your grannies garden sounds perfect! Isn't is amazing how the memories from childhood stick with us and come back at the glimpse or scent of something? I'll always associate petunias with my grandmother -- she had so many of them. My grandfather was more of the gardener than she was. He had this tree that we called the umbrella tree. I have no idea what it really was -- maybe an elm? He trimmed the top so that it was shaped like a big umbrella. He must have had a big ladder and done it every year. That tree is still there -- 35 years after his death -- but it just looks like a normal tree now, with thicker lower limbs. Thanks for a wonderful post Mrs. Life!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I do have plant memories from childhood, both from my mother's garden and from my grandparent's. Thank you for making me think about them again! Many many wonderful memories....I should blog about this sometime. I expecially loved things that had a sweet fragrance - roses, mock orange. In fact, my own garden is arranged in a somewhat similar way to my grandparent's, though I didn't recognize this for a long time.

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