Garden Memories

My garden is the threads of the fabric of my life. Just outside the back door is a Peace rose planted in the early 60’s. It was transplanted lovingly by Helen Freidel from her mother’s garden after her mom passed on.

There is the spot where the old apple tree stood. Uprooted by the Columbus Day storm in October 1962, then up- righted, babied, and continued to bear apples of an unknown variety for many pies, apple crisps, and applesauce. It survived another wind storm but had to be cabled after listing dangerously.

The bird bath by the apple tree was a birthday gift to Helen on her birthday in 1976. Now a cherry tree brings forth fruit next to the birdbath instead of the old apple tree. Columbines, delphiniums, ferns and an azalea share the space in that bed.

When I took possession of the house in 1990 the landscape was sparse. The first thing I planted was a vine maple for shade and fall color followed by the largest leafed hosta I could find. The tag was lost and forgotten but was nicknamed Big Blue for the bluish hue of the quilted looking leaves. Other hostas followed along with epimedium under the tree.

The colorful epimedium was added after a visit to the Portland Chinese Garden. A visit to the Seattle Garden show one spring brought the Stargazer lily along with others for a sunny place. Over the years plants and trees were collected from farmers markets, garden shows and nurseries.

Some of the most precious to me are the plants given to me as starts such as the daylilies in the front. My mother’s best friend gave mom a start and I received a start of the same plant to remember her by. Her best friend introduced me to gardening. The fun of Saturday hunts for plants through nurseries in Salem, Portland and Corvallis or along the Oregon coast are fond memories. The distance didn’t matter, the three of us, myself, mom and her friend along with her dog Freckles were carefree on our treasure hunt for plants. That is what I see as I look at the daylilies.

On the south side of the my home nestled in the shadow of the fence there are trilliums that faithfully arrive every spring as they have even before Helen and Jack bought the home in June of 1960. There is a large rhododendron, a Mother’s Day gift to Helen from her son Ken. Next to it is a Kousa dogwood, a memory tree, planted in 2001 after Ken, my husband, passed away.

This past Friday when I told my granddaughters we were planning on downsizing and moving to a mobile home, Megan’s first concern was whether or not the arbor with the bench would move with us. There is always an Easter egg hidden there on our tradional Easter egg hunt. The worry on her face went away when I assured her it would make the move but she wanted to know just what spot it would be placed.

Over the past several years Allen and I have had a tug of war occasionally over plantings which we chuckle about. I like to think about how I want things to look, much like painting a picture and his method is seeing a plant he wants and then sticking it somewhere because there is a vacant spot. He lived through my insisting the stone pathway to the front door needed to be widened and shifted another foot or two to the south and I lived through his planting a much too large Russian sage in a small area. I prefer not to have ground covers and they are a first choice for him. It’s OK to have different approaches to gardening.

We will make changes at our new home, take some favorites, plant new plants and weave new threads in our lives but I will be leaving a big piece of my life here in this garden.

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