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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Grandma's Garden

When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house. My mother would drop me off on a Friday evening and sometimes I would be there until Monday, or Tuesday if it was the school holidays. Before she died my grandmother said that I was like her fourth child and, to me, she was like a second mother. Sometimes, being an only one like me, I felt that she understood me better than my own mother. I think of her often. A photograph of my grandparents on their wedding day hangs in my kitchen. It was taken on 1st  August 1931 and they both look so happy and they went on to have a long and happy marriage. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

This photograph was taken in the garden of the house where she lived before she was married and where she returned to live when war broke out in 1939. She spent the rest of her life there until she died in 1999. I think of her often, especially at this time of year because my garden is full of her flowers. My grandfather was a keen gardener but they had traditional roles, his area was the vegetable plot and my grandmother's domain was the flower borders. Some of the flowers in my garden actually came from these very borders, their roots teased up on hot sunny days as the two of us meandered around the Swithland slate paths admiring her handiwork. I planted these gifts in our first garden, taking pieces of them to our second house and to our third. When we move from here I will take parts of them with me again.

So here are some of the plants from Grandma's garden.

I adore these Icelandic poppies with their petals like tissue paper. They were some of her favourites too.

I cannot see a paeony without thinking of my grandmother, but they grew much better in her garden, with the benefit of a warming brick wall behind them, than they do in mine with its Westerly winds which are blowing a gale as I write.

She used to cut armfuls of lilac and bring it into the breakfast room, arranged casually in a large bowl and placed in the centre of the mahogany table. The scent of it transports me straight back to my childhood.

I don't know the name of this little fern-like plant with yellow flowers but it used to grow everywhere at Grandma's house, even in chinks in the wall. It's taken ages to get going here, literally years, but now, all of a sudden, it is spreading beautifully and brightening up those areas where not much else will grow.

These two roses weren't from Grandma's garden but she bought them both for us soon after we moved here and the tiny pink one has never had so many flowers as it has this year.


This is called London Pride and used to grow in a narrow border along the side of my grandmother's house. I can still see her kneeling and weeding as I ran across the lawn towards her.

The path to the big front door was staight and crazy-paved. On either side of it, in the narrow borders  there were frilly petalled pinks and mounds of soft, silver-leaved 'snow on the mountain'.

Finally, these centaurea which were probably some of the first plants she gave to me from her garden and which the bees love almost as much as I do.

My Grandma showed me so much patience, kindness and understanding. I miss her steady love, the lilt of her voice, the tenderness of her skin as I kissed her cheek and the taste of her Yorkshire pudding, which she baked in one huge tray, will never be surpassed. But, although she is no longer a tangible presence in my life, at this time of year especially, she is with me through her flowers in my garden.
Thank-you for reading. Have a good week and if you have any flowers which remind you of the special people in your life I would love to hear about them.


  1. Such beautiful memories of your grandparents...and such tangible reminders too. London Pride reminds me of my grand father's house, I have some here at the cottage...from Papa (my dad)....I always think of him when I look at it.

    1. Thank-you Bridget.I was so lucky that my grandparents lived fairly close by. They taught me so much and my grandmother lived to be 91 so I had the benefit of her love and wisdom for a long time and my children got to know her too which was lovely to all of them.

  2. I love that photograph. You look so like her :-) How fabulous to have her flowers still growing.

  3. I love that photograph too and yes, I think that I look more like her the older I get. I have other things in the house which belonged to her but the flowers are equally as precious.