The summer is getting away from me again, but the enjoyment of my garden is not overshadowed by all the tedious responsibilities life sometimes dictates.
This week I am obsessed with my delphiniums. Delphiniums have always stimulated a response to an emotional memory. You know when you’re walking down the street and suddenly you’re overcome by a scent that you just can’t place, but once you remember it’s like you’re transported to somewhere in a memory? That’s what this is like.
My grandma and nono’s house in Highwood has this magical patio in the back. It isn’t grand by any means, but it’s special. When I’m there I’m transported to a time when we would sit as a family on the bluestone patio under the grape arbor. The adults might be sipping wine while we kids would be collecting the bocce balls from the last game of the day. It is such a small space that there wasn’t a lot of room for flowers, so they packed them in. Nono did everything himself, the patio, the arbor, even collecting seeds and sowing them for flowers. The best part of the summer was when the huge patch of blue delphiniums hovered over you as you sat in the grass below. Wow.
I’ve given how a flower can trigger such a powerful memory a lot of thought. The only thing I can think of is that delphiniums have such stature, simplicity and elegance, a tough combination. But a combination that epitomizes my grandparents and how they lived their lives perfectly, even how my grandmother, now 98 continues to do so.
Now for those of you that love to garden, you know that unless you are extremely fortunate, that these garden beauties are not the easiest plants to grow. It isn’t that they won’t grow really; it’s that for every three you plant two won’t make it over the winter. At least that is my experience.
For the past three years I have been trying to establish a patch of delphiniums in one of my beds. Every year the same one plant survives and I replace the other two. Well after three years my one plant has really taken off and is finally giving me some substantial blooms. Enough to even grace our counter with cuttings!
They aren’t the same variety of Delphiniums from my childhood, but they are close. Close enough that my little girl hopefully will have a similar memory of sitting in the grass, staring up at these elegant beauties.
PHOTO: Delphinuim ‘Misty Mauves’