One garden here at the old farmhouse is extra-special.
Partly shaded by a large red maple, it has two dogwood trees, two purple lilacs, a Japanese maple and a forsythia shrub. The Japanese maple was stuck there “temporarily” but was somehow forgotten and has outgrown its spot.
“One of these days, I’ll have to move it,” my husband says. But that tree is so big now that I suspect it’s not going anywhere.
Hydrangea shrubs and tree peonies also flourish here.
In front of them are smaller plants: Solomon’s seal; ferns; the intriguingly shaped “Jack-in the Pulpit”; the occasional trillium (Ontario’s official flower); may apples and another woodland plant whose name I never learned.
Pink tulips come up every spring, as do daffodils, astilbe, and hosta. It’s the only garden bed that’s home to such a variety of characters: woodland, shade, and sun-loving plants.
No wonder it’s called “Mama’s Garden”. The children she mothered are a variety of characters too.
Throughout the spring, pink lamium borders one side of Mama’s Garden, while blue forget-me-nots border the other. Recently, though, they’ve both strayed into the path.
“Your garden would look better if I could weed the path regularly”, I apologize to Mama.
And I can hear her voice saying: “Ah, m’dear. It’ll get done. Right now, there are more important things on your plate.”
My husband named the garden in tribute to Mama’s great love of gardening.
My mother died several years ago.
On every Mother’s Day since, I head out to Mama’s Garden, no matter what the weather, no matter what condition I’m in. I bring a sturdy mug of coffee, walk through the entrance arbour and down the short pathway, looking at the growing things around me.
I sit on the stone bench at the back of the garden.
“Thank you, Mama,” I say.
There are so many things to thank her for.
So I thank her and I thank God for her, and sometimes the talk with Mama gets mixed in with the prayer and it feels like the beings I am talking to are one and the same, but I don’t think either Mama or God would mind.
I give thanks.
For a mother who loved and tended her family. For a mother who taught us the importance of growing things. And for a mother whose love and faith live on in our hearts.
Garden photos by Hamlin Grange. Photos of Cynthia by Dale Ratcliffe.
This post is dedicated to my mother and mother-in-law, who mothered not just their own children, but all our cousins and friends when they needed mothering too.
Happy Mother’s day, and happy belated Mothering Sunday, to all women who tend and care for children.