My rhododendron about to pop!

I’d been anxiously watching my rhododendron bush for a few weeks waiting for its bright pink buds to open and this week did not disappoint! My patience was rewarded with a towering hot pink display this week… when I say towering, I mean it. It’s reaching my second floor windows!  In conjunction with Mothers Day last week, it made me start thinking about the ladies in my life who’ve always seemed to have particular flowers growing in their gardens.

I have unfortunately NOT inherited my ladies’ gardening gene… my father has it too and grows orchids which are notoriously hard to keep but he loves them and they flourish under his care. Even my husband can get plants to grow! He’s like the Jesus of plants, able to revive them from the dead. I have a pothos that I’ve nearly killed off twice, having just ONE brown leaf left and he’d somehow, someway, bring it back to life like Lazarus from the grave. We’ve had that pothos for about 9 years now! His name is Simon and he resides in my dining room next to Robert, another variegated pothos.  Robert Plant. Get it? LOL The only thing I’ve successfully kept alive for any amount of time has been my mini bonsai tree that I’ve had for two years now.  I don’t dare touch anything else. I’m like the Grim Reaper of the floral world.

Clara Lou Peters Stewart was the perennial rose grower in my family.  Even from a very young age, I can remember that on the side of her house in Ashville, Ohio, back towards the porch and garage, she always had several rose bushes in bloom. Red, pink, yellow and white that I remember. On her desk at the Citizen’s Bank where she worked, she always seemed to have one in a crystal bud vase.  My aunt Rosie, who has written the Ashville News column for the Circleville Herald for eons, called my grandma “the rose lady” in the column that announced her death in 2002.  Roses must have been pretty special to her because I remember very well that she wore this one very distinctive (and somewhat overwhelming) Avon perfume that smelled like powdery roses.  Every once in awhile, I swear I can smell her in my house.  It’ll be brief, like she was walking through the room and I will immediately start thinking of her and smile.

My dad’s mom, Gladys Earline Cordle Lemaster, had probably one of my most favorite flowers ever.  She lived in Darbyville, Ohio, and outside her house, she had a wee small gardening spot that always had those dangling pretty pinky red bleeding hearts. Oh, how I loved them! I used to sit on her double gliding rocker out front and watch them wiggle and sway in the wind. When they’d start to fall off, I’d pick them, peel them apart, blow them off my hand like they were confetti and watch them float away. To this day, I still have a fondness for them. I have no idea why I haven’t planted any in all these years!

One summer when I was in elementary school, I spent a summer afternoon at my great-grandmother, Rose May Jones Stewart Hochmuth’s house out in the country. I was so young I can’t even remember what the house was like other than there was a cinder block garage with a big pot belly stove inside and I would paint with her second husband Leonard out there where he’d set up an easel and mixed paints for me. But outside with her, she let me help in her garden and I remember she yelled at me for plucking her little sweet lily of the valleys! I had a whole handful of them and was tossing them around.  They’re so magical and special! What kid wouldn’t love them?! They are so cute and every time I see them, I think about that day with her in the garden plucking weeds and dainty wee white bells!

My mom Lisa Stewart Lemaster Rose planted many things throughout the years.  I remember tons of ugly bright orange and yellow marigolds to fend off rabbits from the garden and she had lots of succulents in pots for awhile. I remember helping her plant lots of trays of annuals in bright colors by the front porch where we had a big old, heavy black painted milk can. But I most fondly remember out back of our house in Amanda, Ohio, were these big, heady, puffy, fluffy, girly light pink peony bushes and even though they were always covered in ants, they were so gorgeous. I don’t ever remember her cutting those and bringing any in but they were sure pretty to look at. In fact, when I was about to marry my husband Jon, my one request was for peonies in my bouquet – to which – my florist said she couldn’t do them much to my disappointment. I would love to have them today but I just remember ants, ants, everywhere and I don’t want them coming into my house!

I was thinking next year I might plant a memory garden for my ladies complete with each of these floral gems.  I’d like to add my own flower in there too so that someday maybe my own grand-daughter Mia will remember that her Mimi had that one special flower that she liked so well. I have no idea what that special flower would be though. Have to think on that a bit but I have time. Already missed the planting season fairly much for this year. Do you have any special flowers that remind you of your ladies or have you planted anything to keep their memory alive?



The Ladies with the Flowers
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