I could sense her presence with the gentle golden fingers of sunshine that filtered in through the bedroom window, and hesitant that I should linger in the gentle breeze of the fan, I shook myself awake and headed outside.
We ‘meet’ on this day every year, a private garden tour if you will, where I show off the ‘kids’ but more importantly give thanks for all that she taught me as a child. The importance of the preservation of nature, the nurturing of all that is green, and an appreciation for beauty that goes well beneath skin deep! How else does one spot the last mesmerizing droplets of dew atop the foliage of Thalictrum delavayi?
On this day, I add a single plant in her memory. This year, remembering her affinity towards ferns, I added Athyrium nipponicum ‘Burgundy Lace’ in the hopes that her fronds will in time resonate with the deep flush of wine colouring that provides a wonderful contrast to the silvery pewter background. It basks in the shadow of my personal favourite Athyrium ‘Dre’s Daggars’ with its dramatic criss crossing pinnae that results in a lattice like appearance – a truly three dimensional experience to behold!
Beauty was everywhere one looked! Tricyrtis ‘Taipei Silk’ looked ravishing against the fabulously chartreuse foliage of a recently installed Aralia cordata ‘Sun King!’ We all know how I feel about that colour! Need I say more?
I found time slowed itself, allowing for me to fraternize with the ever increasing number of plants, that over the years have won over my heart and affection! Some of them were first introduced to my by my Grandmother, while others allowed me the pleasure of being able to introduce them to her: the thrill of it hummed through my body like a song that only gardeners are aware of!
I could hardly wait to introduce her to two of my more recent additions: Acer campestre ‘Carnival’ and Thalictrum ichangense ‘Evening Star’ – both of which have delightfully surpassed all expectation! While ‘Carnival’ is noted for possessing a notoriously slow growth habit, I must confess that he is twice the size he was when I first brought him home back in June, and ‘Evening Star,’ what can I say beyond bloom your delicate and lovely head off! Non stop, for well close to two months and no sign of his slowing down. If you haven’t sought out this diminutive beauty, do it now!
It is this time of year that I am rewarded with the delightful ram’s horn shaped flowers of Strobilanthes attenuata ‘Atropurpurea’ – a wonderful perennial with handsome slightly tomentose foliage, that this year, thanks in part to the wonderfully damp Spring and early Summer, has rewarded me with growth to almost 2m in height! I’m not certain that Larix decidua ‘Horstmann’s Recurva’ is equally happy, as she now finds herself dwarfed in the background! I shall have to rethink placement for either or in the coming months.
Euphorbia cornigera ‘Goldener Turm’ is a personal favourite, with its handsome upright habit, fresh foliage with the delightful silver striping down the centre of each leaf, and its fabulously chartreuse bract like flowers in Spring!
I could practically hear her giggle when I explained the taxonomic humour derived in the naming of Saruma henryi, a plant that to the unsuspecting could easily be misidentified as Asarum – a delightful anagram if ever one existed!
Always one for pontificating on the beauty of coniferous trees and shrubs, I knew she would approve of Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’, but I am sure she would be beside herself if she knew how much it cost me! Grandma, some things in life are priceless!
‘You always were attracted to the rare and unusual!’ Oh, you have no idea Grandma! But then again, with every passing year, you must realize that for me, the rarer and harder to find the better! You always said that life was what one made of it, and for me, its all in the hunt for new and exciting plants! Don’t bore me with pansies and geraniums!
A slight shifting in the air, a diffusion of the morning’s sunlight, and I sensed that our time was coming to a close. How is it that seven years have passed? I need only look at the garden to realize that indeed time stands still for no one! One last story to tell: How I waited patiently for three years before I was rewarded earlier this year with the first ever bloom of Glaucidium palmatum, the wonderful plant whose dramatic foliage is front and centre of the above photo. And her bloom: How soon we all forget…..
The enveloping sense of an embrace, here in Teza’s Garden, amongst what have quickly become my ‘children’, and she is gone, having returned Into the Distant Light, where, although she is but a thought or memory away, I feel blessed to know that a part of her will forever remain here in Teza’s Garden. A few stray tears, so similar to the drops of dew on the Thalictrum earlier, and I am suddenly aware that the pain of loss has been replaced with a sense of reunion, if only for a brief moment in time!