They say that music moves us, and it's true. I think flowers can do that, too.
How else can I explain the vivid memories I have of my grandparents garden? Memories from 40+ years ago of playing beneath the overgrown lilacs, the fragrance of the Bridal Wreath hedge, the privets that ran the yard's perimeter, pink peonies and orange lilies that hugged the house; even the strawberries in their circular raised bed. But even more vivid are the trees: the papery skin of the birch clumps along the driveway, the delicacy of the honey locust, the messy crabapple, the breadth of the maples, the prickly blue spruce, and most of all the magical peacefulness of the orchard.
I grew up just down the road from my grandparents and spent a lot of time there. Along with my parents, they were a huge influence on me during my young formative years, shaping me into who I have grown into. It's these lasting impressions of them that are deeply imprinted on me, that when I smell a lilac, or see a fountain of white sprays of the Bridal Wreath Spirea, the memory of them is still alive.
It's so interesting to me how the lives of those we love are intertwined with plants. I'm still trying to sort it all out. I recently watched an episode of Growing Floret from the newly released Season Two. As owner of Floret, Erin Benzakein, explores two vast collections of heirloom rambler roses, she clearly sees the connection of the legacy of those roses and that of those who collected them. The roses are passing through time thanks to the care of two passionate collectors, and that was their legacy - passing these rare treasures on to the next generation. As she ponders their life's work - the collecting, cultivating, and sharing of these beautiful pieces of living history - she asks the question: “When I am gone from this earth, what will my legacy be? What do I want it to be?”
I can't stop thinking about that. 'What will my legacy be? What do I want it to be?" I've often thought about this big life question, and here it is again. As I get older, it becomes more important to think about. What am I doing with my life? What do I want to be remembered for. As much as I want to make a difference and leave an imprint in some way, it may not be what I do, but more how I do it. How am I living my life? How am I passing through time? How am I showing love to others? How am I being a light to God's truth? So many questions, all of them big ones.
In that episode, Erin says this:
“I believe that we have potential to do great things in our lives, and there are pathways set out before us. The individual person chooses whether or not they want to do or overcome what it’s going to take to go down that path. You have that potential, but will you realize it in this lifetime? That’s up to you. How brave are you, how strong are you, how soft are you, how open are you . . . there’s a lot of possibility for all of us, it just depends on how we respond.”
I believe that, too. I believe that we can be intentional about what we do with our lives, that we all have the potential to do great things, and that there are so many possibilities for each of us. But when people think of me when I'm gone, will they remember me for what I did, or for how I lived? My grandparents taught me a lot about gardening and growing plants. I don't remember them for their achievements, but it was how they lived that will keep their memory alive in me. It was how they expressed love to me, and how they lived their faith, sharing God's truth in small ways with me that made the most important impression on me. That may have been their unintentional legacy, but it was their greatest.
So here I sit, with these big life questions. I turn 55 this summer. It's good to think about these things at any age because every day is a gift and our time here is unknown. I may not achieve great things, like being a caretaker of rare roses, but I know that how I live my life is more important. Now that I have grandchildren of my own, I think about how they will remember me when it's my turn to go. I hope they remember how I showed them love, and how I lived and shared God's truth. And I hope there will be flowers from the garden interwoven in their memories of me. Always flowers.
We think they'll always be there, but then one day, they're not. Someday it'll be my turn. What will I be remembered for? What's my legacy?
This new garden of mine has some old souls growing in it. I cringe at how they've been cared for, but the lilacs and the bridalwreath have a story and trigger memories for me, so they will stay and I will care for them.
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!