This is a slightly more personal post than I would usually choose to write but the plants that have caught my attention this week have all reminded me of people in my life – past and present. It’s not meant to be maudlin and having plant triggers to remember important people in your life is, I think, a great comfort.
A very old Rose
This pretty pink rose was the first to flower in my garden. It’s a crazy uncontrolled shape and is never pruned save for taking off branches that obstruct the path. It’s pretty old and gnarled and certainly preceded our tenure in this house.
When news of Coronavirus hit, my immediate thoughts were to my 106 year old Aunt Rose, who lives in a care home in Leeds. This week it was confirmed that she tested positive for Covid-19 but so far has no symptoms.
Rose is a cracking lady, who like other people her age has seen off two world wars and the Spanish Flu. My father had a pun about her we liked to share – “Auntie Rose sat on a pin, auntie rose.” Think about it.
Her favourite pun on visiting was always “Leeds leads” – that one works better when spoken of course because the spelling gives it away. It shows how much she loves her home city and felt it much superior to my home town, Sheffield.
Throughout history, Rosemary is a plant that has come to signify remembrance. It was traditionally used by ancient Romans as part of their burial ceremonies. It is also used on Anzac Day in Australia to remember members of the armed forces lost in war. The plant was said to grow wild around Gallipoli, where the Anzac forces fought fierce battles in World War II.
This week I bought several new rosemary plants, mail-order from PepperPot Herbs and potted them up in terracotta containers. I wanted them partly because our lockdown cooking has decimated the plants we already had, and partly to help me remember a dear family member who died last week.
Rosemary was married to my late father and was a keen gardener, successful business woman and valued friend and confidant. She had a beautiful pencil drawing of a rosemary plant in her kitchen, which I would look at often during our weekly tea-time chats.
These potted rosemary plants will remind me of her.
This beautiful potted pelargonium is called Pelargonium ‘Double Dymond’. It’s named after a chap called Ken Dymond but that’s not why I bought it. The name, whilst spelt differently, reminded me of my Grandfather Ernest, who died long ago. He worked for the brewers Ind Coope, purveyors of the ale ‘Double Diamond’.
It wasn’t in flower when I bought it during a visit to Fibrex Nurseries last autumn but I’m so pleased the name sign-posted me to this purchase. It’s a stunning double pelargonium in sumptuous burgundy edged with pale pink. What a plant!
This is a new purchase and I realise it’s not terribly interesting to look at yet. If I tell you it’s name is Pelargonium ‘Cola Bottles’ though, your interest may be sparked.
When you rub the leaves you do get a scent of cola. It’s not the scent of the top branded cola drinks, however, but the cheaper brands that my grandparents would buy in for our visits.
Lily of the Valley – Convallaria majalis
Lily of the valley grows in several large clumps in my garden, deep shady areas which see no sun at all. I find the fluted bell shaped flowers so beguiling and the scent is unique and delightful. In this clump, wild vetch is intermingling with the Lily of the Valley and I think it looks charming.
This plant really reminds me of my late mother, who died 20 years ago, well before her time. She had a large clump of this at the edge of our Sheffield flagstone yard, next to the coal shed. On receiving her cancer diagnosis her dear wish was to see her spring flowers bloom and we were all so grateful that she did.
The Covid Tree
Look at this cracking new cherry tree and rainbow of pansies. This is in the front garden of the Manchester contingent of our family. Like many families, more time at home has meant more time in the garden, a hobby I’m delighted to see them embrace.
This pretty cherry ‘The Bride’ has been nicknamed by them “the Covid Tree”. My brother in law is a Consultant and this delightful tree will remind them of this difficult time but of the resilience of their family and his NHS colleagues.
This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday. For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.