Garden bits

July 25, 2011

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?




  1. This is lovely. Remembering Teddy with you.

  2. I have a list of “meaningful” plants, those related to love and grief and healing, but all the plants in my garden are simply those given to me and tucked willynilly in to keep them from dying in buckets. I hope your rosemary fares well; it’s a plant I always manage to kill.

  3. Your garden sounds lovely. I didn’t know rosemary was for remembrance, I hope yours thrives. x

  4. I like the idea of having secret remembrances like this. I look at wildflowers and have my own bits of remembrances that are only applicable to me, Leif and our son. We have Rosemary growing in our very small, very humble garden too. I never thought about that line from Hamlet…now I will every time I see it. Thank youxoxo.

  5. I dare not plant anything for Emma – I’m not sure I could cope with the inevitable deaths. Although, we do have daffodils around her headstone, we figured daffodil are pretty hard to destroy – and thus far, we’ve been right.

    But, I love to hear about other people’s remembrance gardens. It seems good somehow to remember our babies with beauty and thing that need nurturing. I hope your rosemary thrives.

  6. I always hear that line from Hamlet about the rosemary too.

    And this one I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died Perhaps this is why G does not have a garden or a plant since I managed to kill her rose last winter?

    I love your selection of plants for Teddy’s unofficial garden. Peonies and tulips are my two favourite flowers, I will have to look up the Greek myth.

    And yes, that God of healing. I’ll be having words with him should we ever meet.

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