Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rememberance Gardening

Today, nine years ago on 18-01-2002 my mum passed away after a long illness. (My dad died on 11 September, 2000 - exactly a year before the horror of  9/11) Ironically she passed away on their wedding anniversary . They would've been married 55 years the day she finally gave up her struggle with cancer.

My dad and mum on their wedding day in 1947 and still happily  together on their 50th Wedding Annniversary in 1997

My parents reared me and three siblings: two older brothers and a younger sister, with love and dedication. Today I realise that they sacrificed many things in order to feed, clothe and educate four children.

They instilled a sense of responsibility and accountability in me which has served me well all my life. I also acquired my love of Jesus through their teaching and example. 

Through my mum I learnt to love reading and when my children out of the home, she encouraged me to follow my dream to write. (I'm not there yet, but I keep writing) During my early childhood, we lived in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Through our parents, we learnt to love that country, as well as South Africa when we finally had to leave SR and relocate here. I still love travelling and discovering Africa. 

My dad taught me money-management and how to keep a strict budget, a skill my sons have inherited.

My parents were dedicated gardeners. They lived in the same home for twenty years and had the best garden in the village. When they moved to a garden flat in a small town to be near my sister, they had the most beautiful garden there! 

Together my sister Rose and I nursed my mum during the last months of her life. She was still living in the flat she and my dad had owned fifteen years.

It was only after her death that I had the urge to garden.  I began to clear the empty, neglected plot next door; I originally did it as a sort of therapy. It worked! I learnt to love gardening and built a beautiful garden which now belongs to our neighbour. In the beginning I also I worked through the loss of my mum in this way while I often remembered my dad - who was the brains behind their gardens -with great love, admiration and a whole lotta nostalgia.

My parents' garden was an eclectic mix of indigenous and exotic flowers and shrubs. When I grew up, trees were not so sought-after in your garden as they are today. Instead a vast expanse of lush lawn, edged by a herbaceous border and shrubs were the order of the day. There was a rose garden to the side of the house and vegetables and herbs of every kind flourished in the back garden. We only ate produce from the garden; never from the market (no supermarkets or fruit and veg markets in my day!)

One specific shrub which I remember in my parents' garden was a Brunsfelia pauciflora "Exima", commonly known as Yesterday, today and tomorrow.  I have a Brunsfelsia outside my office window and during flowering time, which is just ending now, my senses are assailed with the divine fragrance of the blossoms. Of course, I think of my parents whenever this happens!

I quote from my gardening book: A South African Garden for All Seasons:  

The sweet jasmine-like perfume of Yesterday, today and tomorrow drifting in through the window, is like the very breath of spring so you may like to plant this Brazilian shrub close to the house. When the small flowers open, they are a rich purple, but the next day they have changed to a pale mauve and by the following day are a pure white. This creates a rare colour combination which gives the shrub a delightfully variegated appearance. Its leaves are dark to mid-green, often half folded to show the lighter green below.


This shrub was in my garden when I moved in eleven years ago. I almost lost it the first winter as it's not frost-hardy. However, I bought frost-net and kept it covered for two winters in a row. After that it seemed to rally on it's own strength and has become one of the most beautiful summer-flowering shrubs in my garden.

My Brunsfelsia just outside my office window

When the small flowers open, they are a rich purple colour...

... the next day the flowers are a pale mauve...

... and the following day the flowers are pure white

This a rare colour combination which gives the shrub a delightfully variegated appearance. This beautiful shrub is situated just outside my office window and when it flowers, I am inundated with the sweet jasmine-like perfume and of course, memories of my dear parents

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  1. Nice to remember your parents at this special time. You clearly have a green thumb which I'm sure was also imported by your father's genes. Perhaps there is hope for me yet ;-)

  2. So beautiful, Jo, and a wonderful remembrance of your parents.
    It's great to see pictures of your garden while we have so much snow outside. I'm just beginning to receive seed and bulb catalogues, and I very carefully mark which ones can be grown here, although I seldom buy any. But I love to look at photos of flowers in January!
    Luv, K
    PS - I think you have your mother's smile.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. What a wonderful post, Jo... Your Mother and Father are so proud of you and your garden... I know that you feel your parents' presence every single time you are working in your garden. What a great way to remember two wonderful people. Love seeing their pictures..


  4. Jo, this is a beautiful piece. And yes, you are a writer. How nice to have the Brunsfelsia to return the memories.

  5. What a beautiful post and tribute to your wonderful parents! Such lovely pictures of the two of them on their wedding day and their 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I always find it so special to be allowed a peek inside someone else's life.

    I have several brunsfelsias growing in my garden - definitely could not imagine a garden without one! Yours looks very healthy and lush!

    So, your neighbour's beautiful garden that I admired in a previous post was actually lovingly created by YOU?!

  6. That's a very loving tribute to your parents !
    For me a garden has to look nice and I love to sit in. That's it. I do what I have to do and keep it to a minimum, that means grass in the middle, bushes around and flower pots. The bushes are trimmed twice a year by a gardener, and I only take care of the grass and the flower pots. Gardening was never of any interest to me. I love painting !

  7. Hi Jo!

    Thanks so much for the wonderful comments you left on my blog (all 3!!!)

    I would absolutely LOVE you to share my link with your US friends! After all, this is what blogging is all about...SHARING!

    I'll be checking out your gardening sidebar just as soon as I've given my husband his breakfast ;) He's just got back from walking our dogs.


    Des xo

  8. I enjoyed reading about the unique shrub “yesterday, today and tomorrow” outside your window. There are certain flowers that remind me of my mom, too, because of her fondness of them and their fragrance. Gardening is such good therapy after experiencing a loss. Being close to nature and watching blooms sprout is a constant reminder of the cycle of life. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  9. Jo,
    I saw your name on Betsy's site this morning and wandered over for a visit; I'm glad I did...
    What a lovely tribute to your parents and you carry on their legacy well in all areas of your life; they would be most proud!
    If you don't mind, I think I'll stay for awhile and continue to read chapters in your life.

  10. They are unusual plants with the different coloured flowers. They grow easily hear but i don't have one in the garden, maybe I should get one.

  11. I forgot to send my sympathy for the loss you feel today. I should know my brother died on this day only 2 years ago.

  12. Such a beautiful and moving tribute to your parents, Jo! Thank you for sharing this. The flowers are so delightful and I love the rich purple color! Hope your week is going well!



Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo