Symbolism is under-rated don’t you think? It underpins much of what we value in our lives and yet often we neglect to really appreciate what it offers – I know I do.
Take my garden as an example. In my more reflective moments, I look around and see beyond the pleasant arrangement of plant and objects. I see my family, my friends, places I’ve been, things accomplished, challenges met. Things imbued with memory, with character, serenity, sadness and love. Things to which I attribute certain qualities reminding me of those to whom they once belonged.
I remember especially my nana’s giant clam shell from my distant childhood. It was one of a pair in her garden – goodness only knows how she acquired it or what happened to its mate. Now it graces my tiny garden reminding me of those wonderful times past and how blessed I was to have known her, to have her sap running through my veins.
Her grandfather came to Australia as a merchant from China during the 1800s. When he was killed and his body taken back to China by his brothers, her mother and grandmother worked in the tailoring trade to survive; or so the story goes. In the early 1920s my nana raised two daughters on her own in the days when little help, beyond family, was available.
When I look at that shell I am reminded of her strength and endurance; in fact, of all the women in my family, both fore and aft. Her youngest daughter was a war bride. She married an American airman and went to the USA to live; so brave for a girl barely twenty. Her oldest daughter, my mother, also a strong woman, counted gardening among her many talents. Her garden nourished not just her family, but also her soul. I still have plants that originated from cuttings of cuttings from her garden. When I look at those plants, and appreciate how they survived so many incarnations, I think of our family generations, how we have endured and even thrived through all kinds of familial weather. The lesson I take from this is, how important it is to nurture the stories along with the plants. Mine truly is a memory garden.
For in the dew of little things
The heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Kahlil Gibran 1956
If you have special garden memories I would love to have you share them.