Times Past: Remembered Plants

Irene Waters has taken up another blogger’s suggestion, plants and gardens, for this month’s memoirs.

I’m an Australian, city raised, Baby Boomer.

As I look around my garden now I see things I’ve planted because they bring back happy memories of time spent with my grandparents. I planted a Mulberry Tree because they always remind me of climbing high up the massive one they had in their backyard. I have “Lamb’s Ears” in a pot, I discovered the velvety texture of their leaves where they were growing around the border of Nana’s fish pond. I have a lush fern garden which I always associate with Nana. The path meandered around their backyard with shrubs and trees creating lots of secluded little places.

At home we had a very long lawn along the side of the house, it had been used for playing Bowls and we made good use of it, running through sprinklers in the summer, upending bikes to fix tyres, playing on the swing and rocker as well as doing gymnastics.

Mum worked on the flower beds out the front and along the side while Dad took on all the vegies and fruit trees out the back.

The house was old and for a long time there was a Wisteria covered arch out the front, in September it was wonderful walking under the perfumed, blue flower sprays. Plants I remember Mum growing were Geraniums, Pelargoniums, Coleus, Cinerarias and Dahlias. She always fussed about with Dahlias she cut, singeing the ends before putting them in water. Lilies, including black ones, appeared each year and a Japonica bush with it’s bright flowers on almost bare stems. I loved it when the Guelder Rose bush flowered with its big, white pompom blooms. We kids had fun with the fruit from an old wild peach tree, lining the peaches across the road then waiting for a car to come and squash them.

When we first moved to the house in 1953 the back yard was full of fig trees, all but one were bulldozed and a variety of fruit trees took their places. We ate apricots, almonds, peaches, nectarines, oranges and mandarins, whatever was in season. There seemed to be lemons at any time of year. Grape vines grew along a wire trellis and I loathed coming home at night when spiders would be hanging from the vines and I’d invariably walk face first into a sticky web. Dad also grew tomatoes, sweetcorn and different melons. I lived overseas for seven years and received a letter from Dad once a year, I guess seeing the almond tree in bloom reminded him I wasn’t there because each time his letter told me the tree was in blossom.

In my garden I have Grape Vines, a Lemon Tree, two Fig Trees and a Hibiscus all grown from cuttings taken from the old house. The Snowflakes and Grape Hyacinths which are shooting up now also came from there. I didn’t realize just how many memories were linked to my plants and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Times Past: Remembered Plants

  1. my garden on the coast in sub tropical qld is just a challenge to grow things. I grew up in central qld then moved to the tropics then to adelaide. I have memories of my mums gardens and miss my adelaide gardens.. just about the only memory plant i have is the frangipani trees..nothing else survives the winds and humidity here…so anything that survives I plant in drifts and have become realistic about cutting back and then replanting every three years.

    • That reminds me, the smell of Frangipani and also fertilizer always brings back memories of my aunty’s Florist shop in Port Pirie. I wish I could grow Frangipani here but they never survive.

  2. You have brought back so many memories for me as well with the mulberry tree (there was an old man who had a mulberry tree and once a year we would go and pick buckets of mulberries. It was a great climbing tree. Then we got our own. Possibly not a great move as it meant we could play and paint each other with the fruit. Our hands would be stained red but Mum had a solution – she used to scrub us raw with the green mulberries. Having our own tree also led to silkworms.) The lamb’s ear and coleus. Your garden sounds like my grandparents. I’m quite jealous of all your fruit trees. I think when you sit down and look at your garden it is amazing the memories that plants will bring back. Thanks for joining in again.

    • What surprises me each time I respond to one of your prompts is just how bountiful are the memories. It’s like opening a filing cabinet and all the emotions and experiences are just lodged in the folders marked, “playgrounds” or “plants and gardens” but until you start poking around in there you have no idea how much you’ve collected. Thanks again for spurring me to check out a file. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Remembered or Favourite Plants: Times Past | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

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