Last weekend I travelled back to my hometown to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday and bid farewell to the home she’s lived in as long as I can remember. She’s sold the house and will be moving at the end of the month. I wandered the backyard in circles trying to soak it all in and realized how many of my memories there are tied to plants and trees. Plants seem to have the ability to remind us of people and places and maybe as an overly sentimental person that is part of why I love them so much.
At the back of my grandmother’s yard there was a small forest. It seemed so big to me as a child. It was a whole little world where I would play with my siblings and cousins. The forest had a small stream with a bridge we built and the most special tree. Its curved trunk was shaped as a giraffe and there was a little hole in the trunk where you could put a stick as a tail. The giraffe tree was legendary in our family and later when my nephew went through a dinosaur phase it briefly became the brontosaurus tree. The forest held lots of other plants that were fascinating to me as a child. I remember watching the ferns uncurl as they grew in the spring, picking forget-me-nots and buttercups, and eating rhubarb and raspberries.
In my grandmother’s front yard there is an evergreen tree that my brother planted as a seedling. Now its so tall I couldn’t fit it all in the frame for a picture. When he planted it, I planted a deciduous tree seedling, but it got some sort of disease and died. But there was a second tree that was popular with bluejays and my grandmother planted purple irises around it. Irises always remind me of my grandmother because her name is Irene and purple is her favourite colour.
In the backyard beside the deck there was a small garden bed filled with lily of the valley. The cute little bell flowers are so delicate, fragrant, and fleeting. This weekend I dug up a few plants and brought them home with me in a pot. I hope I can plant them in a garden in a couple years when I finally have a garden but I am terrified I will kill them before then with my total lack of green thumbs.
I’m guessing almost everyone has stories about certain flowers, trees, or other plants that hold special meaning and I’d love to hear them. Now that I’m a wedding florist I love to incorporate those special plants where I can and I like to think I am helping to create new stories and memories. Like every year when the lilacs and peonies bloom I hope my May brides will think back to holding their wedding bouquet as they got ready to walk down the aisle and it brings back that same excitement and joy.