Editor Jane Wrigglesworth makes a case for homegrown flowers.
As for many people, flowers mean so much to me. To be able to pick blooms straight from my garden to bring indoors is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Even better if you have remnants of heirloom plants, passed down from generation to generation.
Rachel Clare, editor of NZ Gardener’s weekly ezine Get Growing, tells of her excitement upon receiving a cutting that descended from a rose her great-greatgrandfather Matthew Mcdonald grew, also from a cutting of a rose that had reminded him of one his mother grew back in Ireland.
“He grew the rose in his garden at Tokatoka, near Dargaville, and years later his daughter, my great-grandmother, gave a cutting to my grandmother, who grew it and gave cuttings to my mother and other relatives. Now, 140 years since that first cutting was taken, my sister has struck one for me. We believe the rose to be ‘Old Blush’, which grows widely in the north, but to us it’s the Mcdonald Rose, named for our red-headed Irish ancestor, thinking of home.”
Get Growing reader Wendy Lambert has a similar story. “Many, many years ago, Mum had a beautiful pink, heavily scented rose in her garden in Kent, which she said was ‘Mrs John Laing’, and came from her grandmother’s garden. She was going to give me a cutting, but I pointed out that someone was bound to find it at the airport! A few months later, Mum sent me some certificates, all neatly rolled up in a cardboard tube. Imagine my ‘horror’ on finding rose cuttings in the middle, all wrapped in damp newspaper and polythene. What could I do? I have to say, the rose looks lovely and this year I will take some cuttings to pass on to my grandchildren!”
And reader Sonja Matla has a special flower growing in her garden that she used in her wedding bouquet. “My future grandmother-in-law was showing me round her garden and pointed out a plant she was very fond of. It was tweedia, a perennial with delicate blue star-shaped flowers. She gave me some seeds and I grew it in my garden. For my wedding, I had the florist add tweedia to my bouquet of mostly apricot flowers. Some time later, when my grandmother-in-law was in hospital after a bad fall, I put some tweedia by her bedside. It was the last time I saw her. I’m always reminded of her on the rare occasions I see the beautiful blue of tweedia.”
Flowers often tell a story. I started my own cut flower garden 12 years ago, which progressed to selling the odd bouquet, as well as potted plants, at my local market. Included in one of the bouquets was the green rose, Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’. A gentleman wrote to me later and said he believed it was his own ancestors that brought this rose to our shores and that he was saddened that it was no longer commonly available. Perhaps I can pass it down to members of my own family to keep it going.
Flowers are my everyday joy. To grow them, smell them, pick them and arrange them, for me, is bliss. And I couldn’t put it any better than renowned botanist Luther Burbank: “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”