Life Lesson, Number… Whatever

My mother has been a constant influence in my life, even in death. She gifted me many things I didn’t appreciate at the time – how to eat peas in polite company; why you shouldn’t wear brown shoes with a grey suit in the City; the best method of hanging wall paper with a particularly large pattern repeat; and how to enjoy the ineffable loveliness of a garden.

Dad was all for using me as forced labour, to grind me into a Soviet-style apparatchik who’d dig the party line and plant potatoes to feed the proletariat that lived at our house. Mum wasn’t into forced anything but all about joy and love. She wanted me to understand how the Chinese proverb about doing something you will love a lifetime was correct: you create a garden.

Gardens are a labour, sometimes of love and sometimes they just are. Like my Latin homework seemed to be, they are never finished, always a work in progress. Mum worked on the horticultural equivalent of a good cheese board: you take a plate of cheeses and crackers; you find you’ve finished one of the cheese/crackers but not the other so you take a little more crackers/cheese; repeat. She’d buy materials and seeds and have too much for whatever project it was; she’d buy something else to make sure she used the first surplus and now had too much of that; repeat.

When we’ve moved, Mum’s first interest was the garden, the potential and she’d supply us with a constant stream of small gifts to help give effect whatever plans we had.

I can stand looking at our garden and think about Mum, imagining her bent back, the murbling from the transistor radio that was her constant companion and the trug of tools and whathaveyous that went with her everywhere. But if I really want a reminder then spring is the perfect time.

Because these

She adored hostas and some of these are direct descendants of hers that burst forth after a dormant winter.

And these…

Fritillarias, with which she started us off with seeds, shortly after we moved in.

Happy days….

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in family, gardening, memories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Life Lesson, Number… Whatever

  1. masercot says:

    Why haven’t slugs eaten your hostas?

    Like

  2. Lovely garden and a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing both.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darlene says:

    Hostas grew well in Vancouver too and I loved it when they burst forth every spring. What a great way to remember your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely. We have recently started looking to purchase our own home here in Germany. The main requirement being that the home has a garden. I would live year round in a tent if it allowed me to have a garden again. Yours is beautiful, and such wonderful memories to go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this piece…both the memories and the photographs. I never considered growing hostas in pots, and this is a great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fond memories. No slugs have eaten our hosts either. How do you eat peas in polite company?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Such a nice way to remember. I love my hostas too.
    Seems like a strange thing is happening on WordPress for me. I follow you, I know I follow you but yet when I came here today the follow tag appeared. This has happened on several peoples sites today. Any ideas of what’s happening?

    Like

  8. Geoff, it’s heartwarming to read of the lasting gifts you’ve received from your Mum ❤
    Indeed, gardens are "never finished, always a work in progress." But for me, as it must've been for your Mum, a garden is a work of love that brings endless joy 🙂

    Like

  9. What a life lesson(s) she left you with. A garden is sublime, A garden full of hostas even more so. When my guy and I moved to our ‘new house’ back in 2000 – first time in NE – a new friend brought to us 30 hostas from his just-deceased mom’s house. And he helped us plant them. Win/win for both.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. *That’s* why you have so many fritillarias! What a lovely legacy for your mum. And I’m jealous. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My mother was a gardener, too, Geoff. I’m not into it as much as she was but certain flowers always remind me of her, like bleeding heart and dahlias. She raised four children and helped my dad run a potato farm. When I think about her taking the time to grow flowers, I realize she truly loved it. Nice reminders of wonderful mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ooh! I like the Fritillarias.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Suzanne says:

    I am always drawn to your posts when they include gardens and of course The Dog. Happy times. The presence of bulbs in early spring is fun. Reminded me that I could never remember where the heck I planted them all, so when they reared their happy faces I was pleased to see that they had survived!

    Happy Spring Gardening, Geoff and Co.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lovely on all counts!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So nice, Geoff. Really lovely. Hope my boys write something nice about me someday. (I think I have some work to do, first!)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Elizabeth says:

    My husband’s mother was an avid gardener and passed her love on to her son. He loves expanding plantings every year. He collects seeds from plants he finds in the wild and marks with little sticks so he can return when they have gone to seed. He learned that from his mother too.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. smilecalm says:

    beautifully fresh
    your mother continues
    blossoming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Norah says:

    What a lovely tribute to your Mum, Geoff. I hope my children remember me with such kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. George says:

    What a beautiful way to remember your mother. It’s much the same way as I remember my grandpa.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pam Lazos says:

    The love and care your mother put into her garden and her children was evident in your book, “Apprenticed to My Mother.” Loved that book and the garden looks fab. Kudos to spring for arriving on time, despite climate change, global warming and the rise of authoritarianism worldwide. At least some things can still be counted upon to show up and provide beauty and enrichment for all. :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jennie says:

    Lovely in every way, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Widdershins says:

    My mother liked a bit of a garden too, or at least I think she did, it was probably the only time I remember her being even moderately happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah that sounds rather poignant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Widdershins says:

        Aye. I think both my parents quickly regretted emigrating from city life – London, to the wilds of a completely undeveloped parcel of land in backwoods Australia … but my mother regretted it the most.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        That’s too painful… my uncle and aunt emigrated to Australia twice, once in 1960 and once in 1972. First time they ran a pub outside Wagga Wagga, second time they spent a year regretting it. Both times my aunt chiselled away until they came back. My uncle always hoped he’d get back…

        Like

  23. What a lovely post, Geoff. Your mother sounds sweet and wise, and sometimes I think it’s the gift of people who love to nurture and make things grow. Hostas are a favorite of mine too. Happy Gardening. It’s one of the best parts of spring. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  24. willowdot21 says:

    Love that garden, love your mum 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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