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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Gifts from an ancestor

 My great-grandmother had a garden. I can remember her unsteady gait aided by a tall walking stick as she made her way daily to inspect the turned earth. Ever the resourceful caretaker of the family, she used her plot of ground to raise tomatoes and corn and cucumbers and okra. Although the area she called her garden was for vegetables, there were purple iris around the shed, 


a rainbow of colored azaleas bloomed in front of the porch in May, 


and a beautiful holly tree loaded with red berries every December stood guard in the yard.


In anticipation of the sale of her house years later I dug up many Iris bulbs and brought them home.  I also clipped branches of holly heavy with berries to use on cemetery Christmas wreaths as my family had done for decades. While I couldn't keep her house, I could treasure a tiny part of her yard. I was well into adulthood and still accidentally killing house plants so there was little hope that I could keep part of Granny's garden thriving, but I planted the bulbs. Each year they have spread further and in April my front yard is covered in purple.

Encouraged to try other plants I visited the local nursery and brought home sweet smelling alyssum and multicolor of the flowers called stock or Matthiola incana. I had some success with annuals and perennials in container gardens. For several years spring and summer I combined various scents and colors in pots around my porch.  The spring the pandemic started I did not venture out to purchase plants and fully expected it to be a barren summer. But that April the purple irises returned in force along with yellow daffodils and some purple tulips that had been in my father's garden and transplanted. In May green shoots began to surface in some of my flower pots and later blossomed into Sweet William lavender flowers with white tips that spread and filled the space. 

Even though I was sheltering in place, the earth pushed up green and colorful gifts. One day while weeding and pruning I noticed a tiny pinky-size jagged shoot of green that upon inspection looked vaguely like miniature leaves from a holly tree. Nurturing the new plant for several weeks I realized as it grew that the December before the pandemic I had placed clipped branches from my great grandmother's beautiful holly tree in my outside flower boxes for Christmas decoration. Some of the fruit had buried down into the Earth and blossomed in spring into a new holly tree.  What a beautiful inheritance down the generations. 

Although these several years I have relied on the perennials and not added the colorful annuals from a store, my flower pots provide an Oasis of Peace and reflection and continued family traditions, a new avocation for my retirement and some surprise gifts from an ancestor.