I spent a good part of yesterday in my flower bed, digging and weeding and mulching and starting at the spots of very dry grass while wishing I watered more often. I’m not much of a gardener, but I’ve been slowly working on this flower bed, adding a little to it, trying to focus on flowers that don’t immediately die if I forget to water them when I should because I often forget to water things.
Every flower has a story. The garden (it’s really just a flower bed, but I tend to call it a garden) is Teddy’s even though I’ve never really called it “Teddy’s Garden” out loud. There are no markers there that bear his name or snatches of poetry, no angels or teardrops or forget-me-nots. I’m always on the lookout for something to set there that marks this space as his, but nothing right has presented itself to me so far. Except the plants themselves.
There is a peony that was growing there when we moved in. In the spring, there are tulips with petals that begin all bright yellow and then edge to crimson as they unfurl. I have some wild roses, peeking up wherever they choose, and some rather cheeky daisies doing the same. There are some onions, too, most of which I finally pulled up because, mysterious and quirky charm aside, they just never seemed to belong there. I’ve added, over the last couple years, some anemones and snowdrops, three lavender plants, an evening primrose, a pot of basil and a blessedly still-living clematis.
Most of the flowers’ stories aren’t obvious. Roses, to me, always remind me of Portland and the two weeks I spent there in hopes that Teddy might live. Lavender is for comfort – a mourning color, but a few steps away from straightforward black, and it also reminds me of the lotion my mom rubbed on my feet in that hospital room. Peonies are linked through mythology to healing – named after a very talented medical student, who made the god of healing so jealous that Zeus changed poor Paean into a flower out of mercy. I get dark pleasure from this story because who knew the god of healing was such a petty bastard? Oh, that’s right. I did.
And now, temporarily pretending to be another lavender plant, is my more-obvious rosemary, with a story most of us know thanks to Shakespeare and poor Ophelia. There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. There it sits, my tiny rosemary plant, its roots covered by dirt and cedar mulch, it’s small, piney arms stretching up to the sun. I’m hopeful for it. How can the patron plant of remembrance not take root here?