Her eyes were the colour of this flower, the ethereal Meconopsis baileyi, [M.betonicifolia] and when they gazed in your direction, little else in the world mattered! Quite often as a child I would look up into these same eyes and question the world: ‘Why don’t more people grow plants that like shade?’ ‘There should be a flower that is the colour of the sky don’t you think?’ I think it was she who inspired me to want to grow those elusive blue flowering plants that tug at my heart to this day! The fact that M.grandis flowered in a pot for me this year took my obsession to new heights. Now I only need wait for a repeat performance next year, but I’m losing focus….. this is not a pontification on my obsession with the colour blue – those who know me need not be reminded!
There is a bond between Grandmother and Grandchild that is hard to explain. Easier, if you are the first Grandchild, but how does one explain the fifth? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I spent much of my formative years in her care. Growing up in a latch key family meant it was easier to go and stay with Grandmother and Grandfather. Having a property that was larger than most [a lot and a half by city standards] meant that you had plenty of room to play and find mischief within the safety of their watchful eye!] It also meant you could explore a bevy of gardens: vegetable and fruit plots, bodacious sun filled borders, brimming with Rosa, Paeonia, Forsythia, Syringa….. the list is endless – and in a shaded corner on the north east side of the house – a shaded garden where I first met Matteucia, Convallaria, Trillium, Arisaema and Polygonatum, garden friends that have remained a constant throughout my life!
This same bond allowed for us to become confidants as we grew older, and I know in my heart of hearts that she understood me like nobody else yet remained non-judgmental and loving for the remainder of her life. I learned many valuable life lessons from her: being thankful for what you have in life - there is always someone who would be happy to be in your shoes; the fine art of independence – not being afraid to get in the car and drive – let the four winds be your guide; the importance of appreciating the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis, and so many more that remain useful to me to this day!
The first week and a half of June were filled with birthdays in my family: mine on the 2nd, my Father’s [her Son] on the 4th, and hers on the 9th. Three strong willed, determined Gemini’s could also be a living hell for the rest of my family. As a rule, two was company, three was a disaster in overcrowding and was to be avoided at all costs. It was the same with the three of us! Road-trips could be especially painful. I bet if you asked the three of us independently what shade of blue Meconopsis grandis is, you would have three very distinct answers, each person confident that they were in the right! Line the three of us up and you could instantly see the similarities: the slightly downturned mouth, the slightly upturned noses and the same iridescent blue eyes.
Their passing makes it a difficult week. So many memories vying for attention, the residual effects of loss and longing seem to heighten dramatically, but at the same time I can feel their presence in the garden, especially in those special blue flowers who during this week above all others, brings a warming smile of remembrance to my face. Today I celebrate the life of a woman who has left a lasting impression on my life, my Grandmother! My life has been greatly enriched from the experience of having her in my life. She will reside in my heart forever.