Our home was surrounded by trees and flowers – a bed of hydrangea and snowball bushes rimmed with a ruffle of pink phlox, a wisteria vine so thick I could use it as a seat, fragrant jasmine and honeysuckle outside the bedroom windows, and a long line of redbud trees down the side of the house. A huge shade tree in the front yard made a wonderful place to play, and a beautiful, thick hedge rimmed the back yard. But the one plant everyone remembered best was my grandmother’s tiger lily.
The tiger lily bloomed each year in its special place by the back door. It was a sort of family treasure, a little piece of beauty that only the family saw. I would sit on the back steps and just bask in the glory of the soft air and the loveliness of those few perfect petals.
When we moved to a new home, my mother continued the tradition. Right under my bedroom window, if you bent down low and knew where to look, was a patch of tremulous, pink, heart-shaped blooms – a beautiful bleeding heart plant.
My best friend’s father was a horticulturist. At their home, in its splendid, creamy glory, was a gardenia. He took us on regular viewings (even though it was right outside the front door) and explained to us how delicate the petals were. We wouldn’t have touched one for all the money in the world. Then he would get into the more technical aspects, such as soil acidity, and our eyes would glaze over. But we got the idea – Mother Nature has all sorts of complications and demands, and we’d better respect them. We could end up living in a desert if we didn’t play by her rules.
It seemed that everyone I loved had that one special flower that defined who they were. Name a flower, and I will come back with the name of the person I associate it with. The agonizing wait for the plants to bloom and the joy of their blossoming are memories I treasure to this day. What a wonderful thing to give a child, a thing of beauty to be anticipated and then reveled in. How marvelous to have one special thing, no matter how inexpensive, to provide you with joy and beauty.
Through these stunning flowers my mother and grandmother taught me that life is a cycle. I learned the value of patience, of waiting for things of value. Never give up in the dead of winter – Spring is coming!
Text copyright 2015 by Jill Teresa Farmer