When I was first married, many moons ago, I had never picked up a trowel in my life. My mother and grandmother were avid gardeners, with beautiful English cottage gardens.
We bought our first house six months after we were married. It was the dead of winter and I do believe my mother was secretly planning my first garden for me. She couldn’t wait for the snow to thaw before she started showing up with trays of plants from her garden. I remember she told me that you can’t kill these plants, they are very hardy.
Hah! I showed her. For the first two years I managed to kill everything. I was either over-watering, under-watering, over-fertilizing, planting shade plants in the sun and visa versa. In general, killing everything with kindness. But mom didn’t give up on me.
Then, in the third year something just clicked and some perennials managed to survive the winter. I remember the delight I felt when I saw some tiny green shoots pushing their way through the snow. Delight is too tame a word. I was ecstatic. I was also four months pregnant.
Six months into the pregnancy I started maternity leave so I had plenty of time to putter around my little garden. The baby was the first grandchild for my parents, so mother spent a lot of time hovering around me…and by extension the garden. The garden blooming probably had more to do with her, but I think I will have to take some of the credit.
Two years later we moved into our next house. I now had a two year old son and a six month old baby girl, so I had quit work to stay home with them. The new house had no gardens at all. Perfect. A blank slate. I split all of the perennials my mother had bestowed upon me, left some at the old house and took the others to the new house. We lived at this house for ten years. I developed a green thumb and my gardens were a thing of beauty. When the kids started grade school I went back to work, and had less time to garden, that was when I discovered the power of 3 to 4 inches of mulch. Some people don’t believe in mulch, but I find the benefits to be beneficial to the garden and the gardener, (less time weeding).
Sadly, my mother passed away when my oldest child was eleven years old. She was only 54. If there’s one thing that she bequeathed me, it was the joy of gardening. She never gave up on me during the early gardening disasters and was delighted with my style of gardening as it progressed.
We’ve moved another three times since my ma left us, but I have dug up and transplanted every plant she gave me and I can look out my window now, see those plants and remember my mother.
Did I mention my mothers name was Ivy?