I hoist my grandbaby onto my left hip, cane grasped with my right hand, and stroll through the garden. I stop and show her each plant, sometimes calling them by name. She reaches out to grab a flower, and inspects it up-close.
Meandering is a lovely word. Better than strimping, that word my mischievous husband made up to describe my fervent attempts to stride while limping. One of these days, he will probably settle on “mimp” to describe my meandering style, but until then, I’ll meander.
July is the time of plenty, my garden’s multicolour month. Flowers bloom abundantly — in several shades and colours. Clematis vines flower in pink or purple. Daylilies bloom in pink, peach, orange, red and creamy yellow.
So many flowers to show her on our July meander, that I sometimes settle for calling them “leaf” and “flower”.
July’s colourful phlox are mostly faded now, their flower-heads exhausted. Vibrant pink and salmon blooms are turning brown in August. Once-upright flower stems bend over from the weight and heat.
August is usually a serious month. Garden chores ignored in the sunny days of July demand attention — the deadheading, the dividing, the transplanting, the watering. August signals both the fading of the colours and the end of play.
Each year, I treasure spring flowers especially because they are new. Now I treasure my late summer ones largely because they are few.
Last week, I noticed that the red bee balm still bloomed in one part of the back garden, near the birdfeeder. The birds above are more numerous now, but the bee balm flower-heads below have fewer petals, their colour less brilliant. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies still visit though. The leaves are still green.
The August garden is greener, softer, the colours more muted during the day, the shapes of leaves more pronounced.
Flower stems now removed (‘deadheaded’), hosta’s leaves are no longer overshadowed. Gone are the lavender blooms which caught the eye the moment we entered the garden.
Now, as we meander, I point at large leaves, small leaves, pointy leaves. Glossy dark green, green edged with white. My granddaughter looks at each intently and, as always, I wonder what she is thinking.
What do green leaves mean to a nine month old baby?
In the back garden, yellow and coral canna lilies still thrive in their pots. Soon they will be the main sources of colour there.
The frontyard relies on various shades of green and white for ‘colour’.
The light, sweet scent of white trumpet-shaped flowers greets us as we enter.
These are the most aromatic of all our hosta flowers. To walk by them in a slight breeze is to bathe in fragrance.
At one side of this garden, the caryopteris shrub has tiny blossoms. Across the driveway, in another bed, the sedum plants already have buds.
My granddaughter and I will meander through the garden on good-weather days till cold weather settles in. I will point to the sedum blossoms that will by then become sturdy pink flowers, to caryopteris’ wispy flowers forming a mist of blue.
Together, we will watch butterflies and bees taking a late-summer sip of nectar from both. I will then feel – Deo volente — as I do now, triply blessed. To be alive, to have a loving family and to be able to walk with my grandchild in the garden.