Grangree worked on her feet all week long in a factory that made children’s hats, but she spent every weekend bent over, taking care of the flowers in our yard. She grew roses along the side of our house. She grew poppies and gladiolas in the back of the house. She planted a fir tree when we first moved in that grew very big over the years. She planted a solitary peach tree that lost its solitary blossom during a hurricane. I have strong memories of the flowers in my Grangree’s garden, but I never really understood why she spent so much time and energy working on it until I moved into my own house in Philadelphia and started a garden of my own.
I have a small plot of land that runs alongside the driveway in back of my house. It has a grapevine that was planted more than 60 years ago…none of my neighbors can remember a time it wasn’t there. There is a wooden arbor holding up the grapevine, and one of my favorite signs of spring is the pink blossoms that signal the return of my grapes. They are not tasty grapes for humans, but birds flock to my backyard to enjoy them throughout the summer. In fact, some of the volunteer plants in my garden are thanks to the birds who “leave” seeds behind.
My favorite plants in my garden are those that came from friends. My lily of the valley and my Long Island daisy are from Tricia. My irises are from Kay, who moved long ago. My favorite flowers are my Columbine, grown from seeds given to me by my dear friend Marlin who died. When they bloom each year, they remind me of him and I smile.
Now that I have my own garden, I understand why Grangree planted hers.
A garden is more than plants. It’s a connection to the past and a way to build memories for tomorrow.