Remembered or Favourite Plants: Times Past

1965.7 Uncle John Aunt Annie

© irene waters 2017

Today our prompt comes from D. Avery from Shiftnshake   who wrote “I was thinking about you today as I pulled some weeds from the perennial beds at my place back home in Vermont. I know that people up here connect certain plants or gardens with certain people; my sister in law always remembers her grandmother thru plants; my mother still has a plant of her mothers, or at least a descendent of the original. I go by places and see trees that I planted decades ago. Anyway, perhaps remembered or favorite plants could be a future prompt. I wonder if around the world there are specific and direct connections that people make thru plants.


Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

Baby Boomer

Rural Australia

My parents were not gardeners. I associate no plants with my mother but I have two that I associate with my Dad. The first was a weed “Mother of Millions.” Dad didn’t know it was a weed and loved the way it would fill a garden bed with its orange flowers quickly.  The other is the May bush. Almost all my childhood houses had at least one of these bushes and my father pruned it yearly. That in itself was nothing apart from the precision that he used in the process. Each branch was trimmed individually, making sure that the cut was at the exact point where two branches would emerge, not one. It would take him a day just to do one tree. It always looked sad when he finished. A perfect square and bare. Come the spring however, the new growth would be weighed down with a profusion of flowers.


© irene waters 2017

IMG_0002 (5)

© irene waters 2017

The generation before my parents gave me some excellent gardeners. My mother’s mother and her husband had a wonderful garden divided into garden rooms well before Peter Cundall made the idea universal. They grew all their own veggies and had chooks. In the flower garden they had  a wonderful shrub, a Brunsfeldsia, whose flowers changed colours from vivid violet fading to a lavender blue and then white which is how it got its common name Yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Whenever I see them I think of her. Another plant she loved was a cassia. They reminded her of Queensland where she had grown up. They too I discovered are a weed and are spread by every bird that visits.

On my Father’s side my great aunt and great uncle had a huge garden that eventually became my parents. We loved going there as kids as there were hidden pathways and tunnels and gorgeous flowers. A huge magnolia tree makes me think of of the garden where my father is buried but her rose garden was exquisite and the aroma beautiful. It wafted into the lounge room and brought the outdoors in.

Thank you for the prompt.  Now for your memories……

City Australia

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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15 Responses to Remembered or Favourite Plants: Times Past

  1. Hi Irene. Uh, sister in law some how appeared as “cisternal” in my message to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A great prompt, Irene and D. Looking forward to taking part again this month. Thanks for sharing your memories of gardens and people. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a baby boomer, hopeless at gardening. Should I walk in with a plant, my son announces, “Another innocent victim.” Sadly, he’s usually right.
    My father was a talented and hard working gardener. Nearly every place he lived, he planted rose bushes, among other flora of all kinds. Two of my strongest memories are connected to his rose gardens.
    The first is when my toddler sister nearly drowned in our small New Jersey backyard pool. A freak accident left her floating face down until our neighbor commented to my mom who dragged my sister out of the water. My mom ran with her, tiny, blue-gray, lifeless, screaming into the front yard where my dad was tending his roses.
    Dad was a physician, but in the 1950’s, CPR hadn’t yet been invented. Certain she was dead, he did what he could, using artificial resuscitation, trying to get my sister to throw up the water in her lungs. Finally she did, and mom and dad raced her to the hospital. She survived with no permanent damage.
    The second moment happened a week or so after my dad’s massive stroke in San Clemente, California. He was 87 and in ICU, getting weaker every moment. Finally he called me over and told me that the rose garden at their condo unit would need to be trimmed soon. He struggled to speak, would not open his eyes, but described his routine for trimming the roses so they would bloom all spring through autumn. His biggest concern was making sure the other residents would have roses to enjoy.
    My dad died about a week after he told me how to care for his roses. I went to the condo unit several times and picked a few roses which I dried. Now they stand in a pot hung on my wall, and each time I pass I think of how selflessly he tended his gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was very moved by your Dad telling you his secret to pruning the roses so that the other residents could continue to enjoy them. What a wonderful man he must have been. How lucky your sister was as well that he knew some resuscitation techniques. Thanks Sharon for joining in with your rose remembrances.

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  4. I am hopeless at gardening, but I liked the photos!

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  5. Hello Irene, hope you are well. At long last I visit you with some reminiscences on plants. I had at first thought that this would be about perennials, about the plants that get divided and shared around, but what has come are trees. Perennials are amazing in that they die back every winter and come again in the spring and so can look about the same year after year. Trees are sneaky. They go through their seasonal change of clothes and somehow grow larger and larger unnoticed until you realize that if that tree that you can now stand under and enjoy some shade is the wee sapling you put in the ground, well, somehow you also got older. The trees I have in mind with that were weed trees, thin saplings that were growing wild in an overgrown yard I was working in. I saved them from the mulch pile and gave them a chance and a lot of faith as these thin sticks were to be a barrier between our new house and the neighbor. These maples are now thirty feet high and quite robust, have quietly stood their ground while the house got renovated, refinanced and even paid for. Best of all, the yard they came from belonged to a wonderful older woman, who has been gone now probably ten years, at the age of 94. Those trees will outlive me, but they keep me from letting Eleanor slip from my memory.

    And all this time I was going to tell you about the split leaf maple trees that used to line all the streets in the town that I was born. (Trees are sneaky, they distract)
    The industry of this town was granite, long ago, and the town boomed for a while with active granite sheds. I am now wondering who planted those street trees and when, but I would guess around 1900, along with the houses, maybe even earlier. By the time I knew these trees as a kid, these trees were enormous, draping tall over both sides of the whole street, making it cool and inviting. Cars didn’t get baked in the heat of summer parked on these streets and houses were kept cool naturally. We didn’t have air conditioning, and it didn’t seem like we needed it. These trees being all the same age, many went down at the same time, a tough winter. I lived away when that happened, but get back often enough to appreciate those that replanted a street tree. Many people did not, and it is hard to convince out of towners that these streets were once beautiful, not bare, that they sheltered kid life and bird life and the humming of healthy neighborhoods. Some of the original giant split leaf maples do still stand and I always check in on them when I am up here. I am always relieved to see the one that stands in what used to be my backyard, behind where used to stand a barn before it burned. This tree has a split trunk and as a kid it served as a cozy hideaway place. All the people in that neighborhood are different now, but every summer they run the risk of seeing a fifty something woman snuggling into the embrace of an ancient tree.

    In the same town is another maple tree that I like to visit, the one that my father and I planted for my grandparents when their street tree died. By then we were building up on the hill on land that had long ago been a farm. We built further back from the road, and the plan was to fill in the old cellar hole from the long gone original farmhouse. One of the treasures taken from the cellar hole before covering it over into lawn and fruit trees was a maple tree that still lives at my grandparents’ old house. It outlived them, it will outlive my parents and should outlive me.

    That maple tree was growing up inside the cellar hole, a wildling that was lucky to have been pulled and transplanted. Outside the cellar hole were old apple trees which my father pruned and grafted. He used one of their forked branches to locate our well. One of these trees I remember in particular because the apples were so good and unique. Big yellow ones. My mother simply referred to that them as the pie apples because they were so well suited to that purpose. I don’t know much about the origin of those apple trees but am certain that my mother was not the first person to use their bounty for pies, sauce and apple butter.

    Well, there are other trees I know, I am sitting under some now, but I will stop. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your memories of trees that have coloured your life and hold the memories of your parents, your childhood and Eleanor. Maples are not a common tree here (although we do have Chinese maples in colder climate areas) but you have brought back to me memories of a pen pal I had in Alberta Canada. She sent me a photograph of herself holding a Barbie doll but what struck me more than anything were the massive colourful maple trees in the background. I had never seen anything like them before. I love the vision of you embracing your tree and those pie apples – I just wish I could taste them. Thank you for sharing. I would have been very happy for you to go on.

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      • Glad you enjoyed these trees with me. When we moved up on the hill, to the house (log cabin actually) behind the old cellar hole, I discovered more favorite trees in the woods out back. One was a huge old maple that had fallen and was beginning its new life as a home to all number of critters and as food for the soil. It was quite a large tree so it would remain for a long time, was there for me for a decade anyway. But I loved being able to climb on it and walk its horizontal length, and to see the squirrels and chipmunks running in and out of it through holes where limbs used to be. Was always watchful for a larger animal, porcupine or raccoon might be holed up in the larger hollow at its rotted base. Near this tree, and yet vertical was a line of beeches. I had always thought they must have been planted for some reason to be in such a straight row, but since have noticed that beeches do that, grow up from roots stretched along the ground, so maybe that’s what the row was about. There was one in particular that I liked to see and would take friends to. There were marks up the length of its smooth gray bark from having been climbed by a bear. Every year those marks got bigger, widening as the tree grew, so my bear story also grew.

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      • Thank you for more of your favourite trees. I can see them so clearly in my mind, particularly the enlarging bear story.


  6. Pingback: Times Past: Remembered Plants | Musings of a Retiring Person

  7. Annecdotist says:

    Bound to be lots of geographical differences with this one – already I’m finding lots of names I don’t recognise and imagine that many plants that run riot in Australia are fragile houseplants here in the UK.
    Although I love plants now, both in my garden and in the wild, I don’t think they figured much in my baby boomer childhood. I grew up in a house with a smallish garden on a corner plot which was mostly used for playing, hanging out the laundry and occasionally growing potatoes. Having grown up herself in a house without a garden I think my mother found ours too much of a challenge on top of everything else, although later we had a strawberry patch where we had to fight the birds for the fruit.
    Coming to this post after making a batch of jam with blackcurrants from my garden, I’m also reminded of how we went blackberry picking (brambles) in the hedgerows every September to make jelly. So they might have been the key plants from my childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sister-in-law moved from the UK to Germany and every time she comes out here she moans about how our plants thrive when she has to nurse hers inside through the winter.
      Maybe we were the generation that missed out, although your grandparents didn’t garden either from the sound of it. Blackcurrant jam sounds delicious and my mouth is quite watering at the thought. In Australia blackberries are a real pest and seldom reach fruiting point as they are poisoned and got rid of. We bought a house with some blackberries growing rampant and we were looking forward to making some jam. The fruit was green but not far from ripening. We had some earthworks done and the dozer driver saw these blackberries and ripped them and then put the stuff we’d paid him to dig on top of the patch. The blackberries never returned. Thanks for your memories Anne.

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