Growing memories in the garden

A Rose by any other name… would be much happier. Or so our daughter says. Our nearly-summer-solstice Gift Child dislikes her second name, Rose – given because their bloom is almost timed to her birth.

Yet, each birthday, I run out to gather the first-blown rose on the vine for her birthday bouquet. Now that she likes.

This year, today, she officially became an adult (in Canada, it’s nineteen), so it is symbolic that our rose is a ‘New Dawn.’

In 2012, however, instead of a very first rose on her birthday, the first full wave of roses is almost spent. The petals were dropping as I arranged the other flowers. We hope that that doesn’t mean a different kind of new dawn for her to expect. A very hot, dry one.

Our Rose’s bouquet includes her great-grandfather’s favourite columbines, which her grandmother grew because he loved them, and which I grow because she loved them.

In contains the leaf of a Hosta, bought because it shares the name of a good friend, ‘Janet.’ Just like I like to cultivate a weed called Herb Robert, my husband’s name, and enjoy having ‘Happy Thoughts’ (Pelargonium) and Liberty’ (Hosta) growing around me. A garden can be so much more than a design. It can be rich with personal meaning.

I have hope that one day our Rose (not so little now; she towers above me) will embrace the beauty in her name. I still remember holding her up in my arms to look at the first rose of the year, when she spoke one of her first concrete words (after mama and dada). It was fa-wa – flower.


    1. Thanks, Diana. There's room for personal stories in a landscaped garden, too, if designers would talk to the homeowners – or homeowners to designers – to incorporate those stories into the design.

    1. Janet, your namesake hosta is very lovely – green-edged chartreuse turning creamy white. However, it's one of those particularly prone to Hosta Virus X, so be sure to get it from a reputable grower.

  1. If only my daughter lived close by! I would make a meaningful birthday bouquet for her. I love your idea! Hers would contain strawberries and asparagus fern, as hers is a mid June birthday, and she's a vegetable gardener these days. There would be Ivy as well because that is her daughter's name. Her oldest son was named Reed, and so reeds would be added. Leo, the almost 2 year old would need to be there too with Hemerocallis 'Leo Lion'. And somehow I'd find a way to add her husband, the fishery officer. I'll need to think about that while I'm weeding…

  2. Your daughter is fortunate to receive such a beautiful, personally-meaningful bouquet. I, too, like having plants that have names of people I know. Once, I gave my sister-in-law the witchhazel cultivar 'Sandra'. Her dog chewed it to the ground, unfortunately, but it has finally started growing back!

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