Cheryl A. Stringer, New Gloucester: Of pansies and peonies, and making a home for Mom

When I was a minimal girl, my favorite flowers have been pansies. I loved their cheerful hues and satisfied tiny “faces.” I am nevertheless charmed by them. My partner and I have a annually spring custom, a “pansy run” to a community nursery.

The peonies that Cheryl A. Stringer planted immediately after her flower-loving mother arrived to reside with them have thrived. Photograph courtesy of Cheryl A. Stringer

A handful of years back my mom moved in with us. We before long uncovered that our scattering of flower pots on the entrance methods and the again deck was not enough for her. “Look at all the place you have on that hillside,” she explained. “You could fill it up with bouquets!”

A backyard is an experiment, and a do the job in progress. Some plantings had been a good results from the begin. Others, nicely, not so a lot. With a sigh, I pulled up many useless vegetation and started out over. Mom, however, was delighted. As she watched our backyard choose form, she relived happier times of many years previous when she and my father tended their own gardens. Lilacs and hyacinth, tulips and daffodils, daisies and daylilies, Russian sage and bee balm and catmint commenced to bloom. Lively hues and scents crammed our as soon as-nondescript backyard. The air hummed with life. A continual stream of bouquets graced the deck table so that Mom, who experienced missing a great deal of her sight, could delight in their fragrance up shut.

My grandmother experienced cultivated irises and peonies. I was enchanted by them as a baby but feared I couldn’t improve them. Sadly, I was suitable about the irises. They basically refused to thrive. I acquired 3 peony plants as an alternative. Immediately after the 2nd year, they have been lined in big pink and white puffballs of petals. I added additional peonies, and extra. They competed with pansies as my favorites.

Mom’s health deteriorated, and she experienced to enter an assisted-living household. As her earth shrank, so did her back garden. Her windowsill turned a flower garden in miniature. I introduced bunches of bouquets from the garden through the spring and summertime of 2019. When the yard petered out that tumble, bouquets from the supermarket took their place. One particular day I placed a few pots of primroses on her windowsill, a location of brightness against the dreary wintertime scene outdoors.

It was the past time I noticed my mom. The pandemic strike Maine, and nursing properties closed their doors to guests. Mom’s wellbeing went additional downhill. She missing the means to walk, and was transferred into the prolonged-phrase care part of the facility. She died 3 months later on, in the center of May well, so out of the blue that we could not get there in time to say goodbye in particular person.

Peonies do not bloom until eventually June. Mom missed the most effective 12 months yet for our peonies. I slice two bouquets from our bumper crop and gave them to a dear mate as a substitute. I may perhaps plant much more this yr, in memory of my flower-loving mom and grandmother. But first, Ed and I will make our “pansy run.”

Angela M. Arriola

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