Family heirlooms…plants from Grandma’s garden

When my Grandma moved to town from the farm she had lived on for almost fifty years, she dug up her favorite plants and took them with her.  She had a spirea that was from a start from her mother.  She dug up part of the honeysuckle that had graced the structure that held the TV antenna.  (We kids always thought it looked like an oil-derrick and we loved to crawl inside it to hide and to pick the flowers to suck on.)  She also took a purple double-rose bush and another rose with small pink flowers.  I have yet to figure out what these two heirlooms are.

When we built our house not long after we were married, she insisted we come for a visit so she could stock us up with starts from her garden.

We came armed with a shovel and some garbage bags.  As she directed us around her yard, she would narrate the story of each plant.

“This is called ‘Bridal Wreath Spirea’ and it comes form the house I grew up in.  My mother loved it.  It will grow upright, not like a regular spirea.”

“This is the wisteria that my friend gave me.  Make sure you put it by a heavy fence.”

The wisteria in our yard, twelve years later. Check out the gnarly trunk.

“Here is some of that honey-suckle you kids liked to hide under.”

The honeysuckle hasn't bloomed yet.

“Here, dig up this iris from the farm.  Your mom has some of the same.”

We have variegated blue ones on the other side of the house. All came from either Grandma's or Mom's farm.

“Here is some flowering quince.  Some say that it fruits but I have never seen it.”

“Here is some forsythia that I brought to town from the farm.”

“Take a start of this rose, just dig down anywhere.  I don’t know what it is called but I love the little pink flowers.”

I haven't identified this heirloom.

“This is the purple one that I gave your mom too.”

Don't know what this one is either.

On the final tour around her yard, she had us dig up all her strawberries because she didn’t feel like picking them anymore.   We took them and started our own strawberry bed.  (When we got the call that she had passed away, my husband and I went to our strawberry bed and just started silently weeding while we both tried to wrap our heads around this great loss to our family.)

We still have all of these plants growing in our yard,  most of them on our back fence.  The trunk of the wisteria is huge and so far the fence is able to hold its own against it.  I don’t think the spirea will ever look as good as hers, but the flowering quince and forsythia are the first things to bloom each spring.

Every time we take a “garden tour” around the yard, we can’t help but be reminded of Grandma.  It is the perfect living memorial to a woman who had such an influence on my life.

I read once that it is a custom to never say “Thank you” when someone gives you a plant.  It is suppose to be bad luck.  I know that my husband and I said “Thank you” many times on that fall day when we dug up Grandma’s yard.

We have not had bad luck with these plants yet.


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