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The Gardeners’ Way of Remembering

A gardener’s memories aren’t always of plants, but sometimes of gardening friends, throughplants. Intertwined with the memories of her plants are a late friend’s engaging quirks, anecdotes, and spirit, so that it is not possible to think of that plant, without thinking also of that friend. When we contemplate, for example, some hardy, low-maintenance geraniums that grow and spread with ease, that a friend dug for us years ago, donning her bee-keepers headgear, and driving a cart down her grounds to dig and haul for us, we always, at the same time, think of that friend.

Just as smells from our past bring back memories that hit us with stunning clarity, it is also the case with the sight of a shrub or perennial. If it has come from a friend, an avid gardener always remembers that, since we communicate with one another through our plants. We give and trade plants, and this process becomes for us a sort of language that only gardeners understand, because only we know the anecdotes and memories that a certain iris or hypericum brings to our minds. The photos here link us to our late gardening friends through our common language and love of plants.

Many of us struggle with a way to honor garden club members who have passed recently. Some members honor their gardening friends by creating a special spot in their garden for plants received from friends over the years. It makes us smile whenever we are in the garden, to see these plants that remind us of these special people.

Our gardening friends gave us this happy legacy: their plants are intertwined with the memories of their personalities, in a lasting, exquisite way.

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