Sunday, April 27, 2014
Garden Memories (Again)
But the Alchemilla tribe also includes some worthy lesser-known species. My mother, a humble, dedicated, and very successful gardener, loved attending specialty plant sales, a favourite being the Van Dusen Gardens' annual fundraiser. I'm not sure if that's where she would have spotted and snatched up a specimen or two of this charming Alchemilla alpina, but within a few years, wherever she'd acquired it, she'd divided it up to share with me. . .
Those are Columbine (aquilegia vulgaris? canadiensis? probably hybridized after so many summers of self-seeding) leaves on the right, so you can see how dainty this Alpine Alchemilla is. . .
And at first, I suppose, it might seem a completely different plant. You're skeptical that I've identified it correctly, perhaps.
But look, there's that cunning pleating again, even more sharply outlined now by the A. alpina's neat, thin border of white.
I've shared a division or two myself, over the years (I'll have to check and see if any survive in a garden up the road, one that used to be gardened by my friend Barb, long since "off the island"). But this is much more slowly growing a plant than its cousin, and if it self-seeds, I haven't spotted any plants that have started that way.
So far, just two small patches of the fresh, neat green-and-white foliage, often decorated by dew or rain droplets. . . .
After buying plants at the Van Dusen Gardens sale for years, Mom began offering potted-up divisions from her garden to be sold at VDG. In fact, for quite a few years, it was an annual spring ritual, the day that volunteers from the fund-raising crew would drive out to my parents' garden and work alongside Mom, by then in her mid to late-60s. They'd need a pick-up truck -- sometimes two loads! -- to contain the yield. Dad made them lunch the first few years -- one of "the garden ladies" reminisced warmly about that at Mom's funeral last spring. In his last two years, he was finally too ravaged by cancer to do much of the food prep, but he was still happy to coach from a seat in the sun, and to join them for tea. After he passed away, the garden was a big part of Mom's survival, and her annual contribution to that Plant Sale a way of maintaining a social connection to a world she and Dad shared.
Three of my sisters are going to the Van Dusen Plant Sale today. Mom's birthday was on March 22nd, the first anniversary of her death was on March 31st, and then again, because she died on Easter Sunday, we relived the loss again last weekend. Funny, I remember being bemused, maybe even amused, sometimes perhaps dismissive, at the way my Dad would recall death anniversaries. Your aunt died six years ago today, he'd announce as he poured me a cup of tea. Or, 27 years ago, I got the telegram about my Dad. Or. . . well, you get the idea.
It seemed so morbid to me, as a teen, then as a young adult. . . .And then my brother died, 38 years ago this past February, and I started to get it. I can't pass February 4th without remembering that phone call. July 20th forever more will be the day my Dad died (as well as my niece's birthday!), and clever Mom has now claimed herself a wide patch of calendar stretching from her Birthday to her Actual Date of Death to her Movable non-Date of Death, being Easter . . . and, one last clever fillip, a second movable-calendar remembrance via the Van Dusen Garden's Annual Plant Sale.
Easy to imagine teardrops on that Alchemilla. I suspect the sisters will shed one or two, between them. And I wonder what they'll bring home, to plant in their gardens. Perhaps they'll share, in a few years, dividing the roots as Mom did.
Meanwhile, in my garden, her memory lives on. . . .
My apologies for a post that went astray. . . I'd actually intended to go mostly wordless again, letting this sweet little plant do its photogenic thing. . . .