My Mother’s Garden

Loss, especially of family or someone very close, has always inspired writing.

After my Mother’s death I returned to her garden, which I had been so much a part of , both as somewhere to relax and enjoy but also involved with the planting.


My Mother’s Garden

It was three months since I had been back to the garden. The weather had been alternately very hot and wet. The flowers were strangled with bindweed and flattened leaning horizontally on the ground. I couldn’t rescue all of them. I had to cut some out to free the others.

Everywhere the tall perennials which had been so upright and graceful were gasping for breath. You could almost feel it and  even the small annuals were swaying three and four feet high.The lupins were tired and over except one had self-seeded in between the tiles on the floor of the greenhouse.It was brown and dusty but showed a strange sense of having come through and overcome the odds.

The saddest sight was the pond. The water lilies which had taken a few years to reach their best and only last summer had plenty of blooms were cramped up against each other with the water level sunk lower than normal. The irises had never had more than one or two flowers but I could see several dried brown heads amongst the leaves. This year must have seen their best ever showing and no one was there to see it. The rockery around the edge was choked with weeds covering the Creeping Jenny and tiny Saxifrage plants I had put in two summers ago. All around the edge giant perennials several feet higher than they should be were leaning over the water with waving stems of grasses in between.

I couldn’t imagine any frogs or water boatmen continuing to inhabit this dense suffocating patch of water. Last summer a whole family of frogs had come out after dark and croaked well into the night.

As I looked around the garden I saw the orange quince bush and the cistus partially invisible behind the bind weed, struggling to break through.  I began to pull at the bindweed ripping it out of the bushes trying to free up their natural shapes.

But overall there was this strange silence and glazed over feeling across the garden. As if someone had laid a dust sheet over it. I can only describe it as a deadness as if all the life had gone which in a sense it had. It was almost as if the flowers knew their gardener had gone and wasn’t coming back. Even the birds seemed uncertain where to perch.

The plants seemed to be making an effort but it was as if they knew all was not right. They bloomed without any real energy or vitality.

The balcony railings were rusted and the greenhouse glass needed cleaning

I remembered the other days when I had worked so hard in the garden with so much love. Twenty years of cutting, snipping, weeding and planting. It had looked so beautiful and now it was dry and forgotten. Death had crept into the garden. My Mother’s death.

One day someone else will bring her garden back to life.  But I took cuttings from the old friends I was leaving behind and I shall plant them in a new garden and watch them grow again.