“Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.” Jean de Boufflers (1738-1815)
I was touring a friend’s garden the other day and in the process, learned what we really grow when we care about what we do. She is a grandmother and getting a bit older, and I can tell by her body language that the one thing that concerns her the most is the state of the five acres that surrounds her rural home. It is full of rare trees, species rhododendrons and seedlings – literally hundreds and hundreds of them – all lovingly planted each time a void opened in what was a Christmas tree farm. She can hardly take two steps without pulling a weed or fussing over a little pruning, but even with these minor distractions she still has a sharp sense of humour. We were joined that day by her grown daughter and mine, a recent university graduate and as we approached a Bladdernut tree (Staphylea) she picked a pair of inflated seedpods and told us a little story. Many years ago she was giving much the same tour to a young family and as they approached this tree the eight-year-old daughter blurted rather matter-of-factly that “my brother has a pair of those”, resulting in one of those awkward silences that can only be remedied by laughter. As we walked along there were other stories and special places – the secret garden…the Cypress with three crooked stems, one for each of her daughters…the horse paddock…the Japanese Maple tunnel – each tainted by the laughter and dreams of her children and grandchildren. I could tell by the look in her grown daughter’s eyes that the memories of those childhood haunts were not diminished by time or weeds, or a few dead branches – they were as beautiful in her mind as the day she had first experienced them. And then it dawned on me that my friend really wasn’t growing rare plants and trees…she was making memories…and in her garden, they were all good ones.