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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Old Fashioned Flowers

I took a trip down memory lane yesterday while browsing at our neighborhood garden center. It's funny how as a kid, you don't realize that you're learning and filing away facts that will pop out at random times in your adulthood.

My mom wasn't much of a gardener. It wasn't that she didn't try or that she didn't want to be. I think it was just not a priority. Having three kids, working more than full time, and helping dad in the orchard took up all her time. In fact, sometimes I wonder how she ever had the energy to even think about planting a garden.

She inherited some perennials and a few flowering bushes from the previous owners of our farmhouse. She refused to trim back the lilacs and the mock orange bush, much preferring their wild abandon to manicured restraint. And wild they were. Her lilacs were almost as massive as the house and the mock orange bush exploded every summer in a riot of fragrant white blossoms.

A small perennial bed in the front yard sprouted delphiniums, some type of sedum, and my beloved peonies. Every Spring, the peonies would spring forth with red-tinged finger like branches, reaching for the sun. As they grew, massive blossoms bent the stalks nearly to breaking, sometimes trailing on the ground. They were always riddled with little black ants.

We'd cut the white blossoms and bring them into the house to sit in colored water, in the hopes of turning them unnatural shades of green or blue. Hitchhiking ants would cover our kitchen counter, much to mom's chagrin! I loved those white flowers, but it was the deep, rosy red ones that had the most special place in my heart. So beautiful were these crimson beauties, that we left them on the stems. They were much too pretty to pick.

At the garden center yesterday, I walked down the rows and down memory lane. Delphiniums just peeking from the pots, lilac bushes fragrant with unopened blossoms, and my beloved peonies. I finally purchased one for my garden. I don't know why it took so long. I have a special place for it, right in the front yard. And maybe, just maybe, I'll pick one of those big red blossoms to bring indoors.

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