Hamptons Gardens Allow Lost Loved Ones to Live On

The Sergeant Cherry is blooming outside my window. We planted it as a memorial to my father-in-law. He’d been a policeman, and although he’d been a Deputy Inspector, his nickname included the word “sergeant.” He also liked cherry trees and this one is tall and sturdy just like he was. The blooms are lovely, though short-lived, and unlike other cherries, rather reserved…also just like
he was.

When my grandmother died, my cousin sent me some peony roots from grandmother’s peony patch. She had no flower garden, like many farm women, just peonies and tiger lilies, which I will also plant when I can keep deer from my garden. They were rejuvenated upon digging and are blooming like young things. They remind me
of her.

I have bearded iris from my sister’s garden, purple and white…her favorite colors. Our mother collected iris varieties by trading with other women, and she accumulated 40 different kinds. Flowers were special, almost frivolous in my small town, but the iris was one of the popular few. Because my mother had so many different kinds, ours were special, and we loved those big, blousy flowers

My sister was quite sick before she died, but on a good day she took comfort dividing the thick growth of this iris, knowing that would help them to bloom  the next year. I have divided them once, yielding more plants. They need to be divided again. This time I will have enough to share with a friend who also likes bearded iris. I like knowing that this small token of my sister carries on in my garden..

The flowerbed outside of my bedroom window is a memorial to my mother, a great gardener who wasn’t hesitant to try new plants. I planted things I knew she liked and some that I think she would. There are three David Austin roses. I think she would love their big “gooberous” flowers. There are two of grandmother’s peonies and some bearded iris. They are a delicate blue and I know she didn’t have this variety. At one point, I saw a butterfly maple and knew she would like it. The small tree I planted has grown slowly over the years to become a focal point. Small species tulips hug the ground trying to hide from the deer. She liked tulips—hers had fragrance!—and these are her favorite shade of red. A memorial garden dedicated to one’s mother requires an angel and there’s one there. She liked cats—so there’s a cat in this bed.

A very good friend of mine died this last week. I will put a plant in the garden for her. Though she didn’t have a garden while I knew her, she had gardened extensively in younger days and had two pots on the front steps that she planted and really enjoyed. I could count on her for hints about vegetable growing and, as she was from Switzerland, she would often tell me “how they did it in Europe.” She had house plants that she tended with care and she never saw a flower she didn’t like. I should make her an Alpine garden. I made one for a client in a very large, low bowl-shaped pot that sat in a perennial bed. Once planted and established, it was easy to maintain and quite interesting. After I get my garden tamed again, that’s what I will do. She had also lived in Africa and appreciated exotic plants. She gave me my night blooming cereus! I will do some careful thinking to honor her.

For gardening discussion you can call Jeanelle at 631-434-5067.

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