Gardens And Grief

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The path paved with smooth, white pebbles meandered past fragrant purple lavender that brushed playfully against my leg. Yellow bearded irises with their sharp pointed leaves danced in the mild breeze. The peony bush was the colour of rich wine, its perfect sphere shaped bulbs had yet to produce the showy fushia flamenco dancing ladies that would dominate the space in a few days. Peonies held a special significance, although I'm not sure Justine's friends knew that, when they chose this plant to represent them. The Turtle bush, chosen for a favourite colour, was growing very dense, its mauve flowers would be the stars in August. Yellow and chartreuse hostas, appropriately named, "Remember Me", were sprouting up among the blanket of mulch. Miniature yellow roses sat delicately. Bleeding Heart had been added for it's gorgeous hanging stems covered with exquisite flowers, although it might have represented my feelings. Up ahead, at the end of the path, a wooden rocking bench beckoned me.

"Come sit awhile", it seemed to say.

"Not yet" my mind replied. First, I must visit my angel.

The garden was scattered with angels of all shapes and sizes. It was a memorial garden and aside from all the beautiful flowers and shrubs friends and family had contributed so generously, many had chosen meaningful statues of angels. One stood above the rest wearing flowing white robes, her wings proudly arched, her hands folded in prayer. Another smaller fairy sat with her legs swung sideways, her short jagged skirt flounced around her and a wreath of flowers adorned her flowing locks. A nymph stood looking down at a crystal globe that would shine from the dark space as I gazed out my bedroom window one last time before going to sleep each night. None of these angels were the one I was looking for.

There it was. It's pale yellow ruffles surrounded a ring of burgundy that almost seemed to be hand painted. In the interior lay a shocking yellow trillium shaped centre. This daylily's name is "Angel on my Shoulder". When I saw it at the designer lily farm I knew immediately, that it was the one, out of thousands and thousands of stunning beauties, that was meant for this garden. The garden was a memorial garden for my daughter. Justine is an angel now but that's not the only reason I chose this lovely specimen to be the showstopper.

Justine had two tattoos. One on each shoulder. They were very meaningful because one was a devil and one was an angel. They respresented her bipolar disorder and the challenges she faced every day. Should she follow the devil or the angel? Most days she chose the angel, but not every day. This was the flower that spoke to me.

My love of gardening is genetic it seems. My grandfather grew the most deliciously plump, sweet, juicy tomatoes I have ever eaten. His tender, succulent cucumbers were always marinating in a bowl of vinegar on the kitchen table at mealtimes. My father tried his hand at vegetable gardening for a short while but really flourished after retirement when he planted dozens of rose bushes alongside the big Victorian homestead. Showing me his pride and joy, laced with much sweat and grit, was the last thing he did, before he slumped in the back porch and died, while we all waited for him to appear with the steak knife for his barbecued dinner.

I was very late to realize my familial talent. In fact the first house my new husband and I bought had a glorious backyard garden surrounding a grassy path. Roses of all sizes and colours grew alongside forsythia and lilacs. The rainbow of tulips was breathtaking. The first thing we did after moving in was tear it all out and cover the soil with blankets of rolled grass. I didn't know a flower from a weed and had no interest in learning. We even dug out the beautiful yellow forsythia and left a maple seedling a bird had haphazardly planted. Our horrified neighbour quickly salvaged it after explaining we chose the wrong tree to sacrifice. The next house we bought had lovely blooming trees that shed rotten, wormy crabapples every summer. I did manage to plant a few pink petunias in some wooden planters. I'm not really sure when I became enlightened, but one day I announced to my husband that we should build an interlocking brick walkway and surround it with flowing shrubs and flowers.

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