Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gardens that Honor the People we Love

I have been thinking a lot lately about the gardens we plant to honor the people in our lives that we love. Sometimes, we plant to mark a birth, a significant birthday, or a wedding. But, most frequently, I think, we plant to honor the memory of a loved one who has died. I’ve been thinking about these gardens because a dear friend—a neighbor and fellow gardener—has terminal cancer. I’ve been thinking about and planning the yellow garden I’m going to plant to remind me of her since yellow is her favorite color.

The year my grandmothers died, I planted a rose for each of them in a new bed “The Grandmothers Garden” at the St Paul house. And, a classmate of mine plants a tree on his property for each Minnesota soldier who dies in war and for each classmate who has died since our graduation. One year, he did this life-affirming gift on his birthday.

When I was growing up, my father planted a tree on our property for each of us. We thought that was the coolest thing, ever! Even though we have not lived in that house for a very long time, we still claim “our” tree when we drive by. A baby was born into my family yesterday. And, my first thought was that I needed to mark his entrance into the world and the family by planting something. I won’t plant a tree—the city lot is too small for that—but I will plant a shrub or perennial to honor his presence.

So, while I started the week thinking about a garden to honor the life of a friend whose life is ending, I end the week thinking about planting to honor the beginning of the life of my newest cousin. The circle of life continues.

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