Growing an old garden and new memories together

22 May 2018

I regrow my childhood with my children. Just warmer, brighter, better. They are grown now, too. Kala lives four doors away. In May we sow her summer flowers. I will have been collecting seed through winter, too much as always. I will want her garden to be wild like a fairytale. She’ll fight to keep her lawn. We do the first big tidy in April: we will top up with fresh compost, maybe add farm manure, do any late last-minute pruning. We will work on growing summer.

On or around her birthday this week we will mix her favourite flower seed while I try to slip in a few others. We will sow among the roses, lilac and jasmine, the red oleander and the magnolia in the corner. There are primroses from the hedge behind the river house where I grew up, also Viola odorata.

We’ll sow ice and red sunflowers, tithonia (Mexican sunflower), banks of swaying cosmos. We are looking for depth and height and colour. There will be calendula and nasturtiums like I grew as a kid. This year there will be zinnia.

Some seed will be saved from last year. Flashback calendula has already self-seeded. Poppies are growing through cracks in her concrete. Nasturtium can be seen spotted through the border. Last year it clambered the fence, and almost overwhelmed her neighbours’ garden. They hacked it back repeatedly, but it was like trying to stop the White Walkers.

I watch Kala and her kids from my window, lying on the grass, reading, admiring her roses. I see my daughter deadheading her cosmos, while anxiously scanning for spiders and snails. I will watch Dylan or Leah while they are out watering the plants. We will all have our meals there together through the summer, growing an old garden and new memories together.

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