The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth;
One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
— by Dorothey Frances Gurney
My mom was a gardner. She loved her plants. The first gift I gave her that I knew for sure she liked was an iron garden plaque with that poem on it. Mom kept that as long as she could have more than just a few personal things around her.
The plant above is a jade plant. When I was a kid in Southern California, we had one of those growing in the ground, just outside the kitchen door. It was almost three feet tall, with multiple branches and lots of those thick, green leaves. They are absurdly easy to start — I think this one was a leaf that had been knocked off, laid on the ground, and begun to sprout. Mom gave it to me, I stuck it in a little pot — and that was about 33 years ago. After moving to Northern California it lived indoors, so it grew very slowly. So slowly, it was still in a smallish pot on a window sill until about two years ago, root bound but still alive. When I put it in this bigger pot, it took off. Am thinking of giving one of the pups (that have sprouted from its base) to our son.
Even after Mom sold the house and moved into a series of apartments, she always had the bevy of potted plants that moved with her. Most notable were the night blooming cirrus, the plumerias, and the amaryllis plants. The night blooming cirrus was in the ground at her house, and when she sold the house she dug out the cirrus and brought it with her. I have memories of going out at midnight with a flashlight to see it bloom. My sister brought her the plumeria from Hawaii . . . just sticks! Mom planted them and coddled them, and was so proud when they leafed out and eventually bloomed. They smelled wonderful. When Mom finally moved into a place where she couldn’t have her plants, my nephew’s wife took them in. I would have loved to have them, but they wouldn’t have done well in Northern California (too foggy and cool here), and they were too big to keep inside. I hear they are doing well, and that makes me happy.
It is interesting how Mom being a gardner has influenced the way I am. For one thing, I rarely kill spiders, because “spiders are our friends” — they eat the unwanted bugs. So I learned to carefully coax them onto a paper towel and take them outside. I don’t know a lot about gardening myself, but every once in a while when talking with friends about plants, some helpful fact pops out of my mouth, usually something I didn’t even realize I knew. I notice plants in yards or parking lots, and their names pop into my head. Mom’s yard was always so lush and full of plants, she could have stocked a nursery. Am told our grandmother, Mom’s mom, was also a gardner. Instead of a front lawn, they had rows and rows of plants, and when you came to visit, you spent an hour walking through her garden, learning how each plant was doing, before you ever got into the house. So it seems appropriate that I should have such a love of nature, and be concerned with environmental issues. Even my spiritual path is nature based, something I think Mom would approve of.
Most everyone I know has some heirloom(s) from their families: photos, or jewelry, or guns, or whatever. Not many have heirloom plants. Do you?