Wednesday, June 18, 2008

flower power

Some people do not seem to care for gardens. Their front yards are wastelands of green. Maybe a few bushes up close to the house. Perhaps for a splash of colour, a nod to a garden, there may be some tulips. These will invariably be red.

For some (perhaps) unidentifiable reason, I see the inhabitants as being unimaginative. And sad.

In my travels I have seen streets in towns completely adorned with planters and wee front yards overflowing with blooms. Apartment blocks where it was mandated the residents MUST have a balcony garden, making the building look a colourful painting.

Even the saddest of persons I think must feel a moment of joy at seeing such glory everywhere.

Now, actually, I grew up in the sadder surroundings.

My mother loved flowers and plants and was always so excited when something bloomed and distraught when it died. Yet, very little effort was made for the outdoor garden. Of course, the clay soil made it difficult. My father, who destroyed everything in his path with the lawn mower, made it difficult. The front yard was basically naked. We had a huge willow tree out back. And a lovely lilac on the property line which obtusely had its best show on the other side of the fence. Both were removed when their roots invaded the neighbours' pool next door. I cried for weeks. I still feel an intense attraction to the willow and lilac. There were an assortment of rose bushes and a forsythia that survived in spite of the neglect. And a mock orange that struggled againt the back wall, filling the bedrooms with its scent every spring. My mother loved that tree. That one she fought for.

With the construction finally ended, the trek to the garden centres has begun in earnest. My balcony will not be a wasteland. The first three planters are set up and survived the hailstorm we had the other day. The rest were carefully chosen yesterday. We spent a couple of hours wandering about arranging, picking the right height and colour combinations. All was set in place. And at this rate I will not need to worry about watering them for a while!

A lunch was in order as payment for my neighbour's help and we walked over to the LPH along the bike path. Coming home alone, after my neighbour went shopping, I rounded the corner onto my street

and ran smack into the scent of a mock orange.

Every spring the magnolias are eagerly anticipated. And after that, close inspection of the lilacs are made and great excitement when they finally are in full flower. I love lilacs and so look forward to them. But the mock orange gets short shrift. For some reason I never think about it unless I smell the flowers.

As I turned towards the tree to fill up my soul with the heady aroma


how wonderful

a mock orange

I burst into tears.

I have been weeping ever since.

photos from Ruth's blog

(and I didn't cry then when I saw your pics! It made me happy)


  1. I love flowers, mock orange ranks high on my list. I used to have a house with a HUGE garden and I miss it even though I love my urban jungle. Maybe that's why I have sooooo many plants in my condo.

    Hope you dry your tears soon.

  2. I can never understand why people, who are lucky enough to have property, just cover it all with grass when there are so many other beautiful things they could be growing and loving.

  3. XUP: I was always embarrassed of my parent's house and its boring yard. My brother and I have discussed it endlessly trying to figure out why it was so.

    UA: I cannot go into a garden centre with overbuying.
    In the 6 weeks since my mother died, it took the scent of a tree to get the tears flowing. When the scent goes, maybe so will the tears?

  4. violetsky, I'm sorry I didn't know but I think it's very therapeutic to have a scent bring on the tears as they do wash the soul and leave you refreshed, at least for me. I don't know if the tears will go away with the scent but I do know there will be a time when the scent will bring on a smile.

  5. I am a huge lilac fan too and I love weeping willows. I don't know if I have ever seen a mock orange tree.

    I think the tears are a good thing. They usually are in the end (puffy eyes aside).

  6. Newly working in a 666BBHS (as you well know) it's a joy to see people buying things to plant. I had a woman today who almost peed her pants (for lack of a more tasteful phrase) as I told her how to take care of her Jasmine plant. She looked at that plant like a lover.

    How is it, that there can be so many quiet, little people tending to the earth and it's all gone so wrong? I see love for it in every degree.

    A man and his son came in today, and had no clue. They didn't even WANT much of one. They wanted some perennials that would bloom all summer and had to have a planter to put on the front steps like all of the neighbors were doing.

    As flip as the situation seemed, I could see that within the father was a desire for something he liked....there was a spark of excitement.

    And as for not being able to stop weeping at the beauty of it....good for you. The right Horse Chestnut has done the same for me.

    By the way, keep an eye on my place. In the next couple of days I'm going to post pictures of our sad little area.

  7. How wonderful to have the dams over fllowing all from the scent of a 'mock orange'...This is such a sweet catharsis---it truly is!
    It's funny about Gardens and lack of gardens and such. Before I started my Cactus Garden--22 years ago, I hardly noticed anything in my own yard....Now, I notice everything! May the okanters bring you lots of beauty to enjoy and yo bring on the tears.

  8. What a lovely essay on flowers. I hope yours grow well and thrive.

  9. Dr John: Thanks for stopping by. If this lovely cool, wet weather continues they will have a better than average chance!

    ...and for the link from your blog!

    UA, Whim, Robin, Naomi: Thanks. and yes, tears are a good thing, if a little upsetting.
    Tears of joy/tears of sorrow.
    So intertwined sometimes.

  10. I have the same intense attachment to some plants, and want as many as I can fit into my yard. A little lawn is nice, but with so many beautiful rtrees and shrubs and flowers to be had, who needs much of it?


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