The lily of the valley reminds me of my mother, in a way that instantaneously connects me back to early childhood memories.
I think she liked this flower, too. With both her birthday and Mother’s Day falling in May, and an abundance of them growing in our yard, the lily of the valley was an obvious choice for my gift bouquets, and she received them graciously. Never do I recall being told not to pick them, or to watch where I was stepping. Ours was not a fussy garden. In fact, I don’t recall hearing the word “garden,” ever. It was simply a yard, and it was there for me and my sisters to use as we pleased. Along with our dog, and all the other kids in the neighborhood.
My lilies of the valley are just coming into bloom now, along with the twinkling blanket of tiny white star flowers that is the sweet woodruff, and I love each and every one. A few years ago, I acquired pink lily of the valley from a friend’s backyard, a wild tangle of a long-neglected garden, once lovingly tended by her grandmother. I’ve heard some people complain that the lily of the valley is invasive, but mine are not. Under the relatively dry shade of the white oak, they spread slowly year by year, into the “wild corner,” where they are completely welcome.
I’m not sure what my mother would make of my crazy gardening projects. My digging, endless moving and reconfiguring of beds, trying crazy vegetables like the pink banana squash. No doubt, she’d be glad to know of the joy it all brings to me. She’d also be glad to know that mine is not a fussy garden–although it is a garden, not simply a yard–and that it also welcomes children and dogs.
Even perennial-trampling dogs with compost in their hair.
This Mother’s Day, in my garden, we celebrated with what has become an annual tradition: the turning of the compost heap. It’s definitely a task that flies along beautifully with the extra help of my strong son and, once again, it was exhilarating to turn the big beast (the heap, that is) over and open up the main bin for a new season of garden materials.
The big pile got turned into two smaller piles, and watered well.
The bottom of the pile being turned was pretty wet and compacted, without air, and exuded interesting smells.
Although I shrieked every time those big paws pounced through the “garden,” I know that none of my plants are so delicate that they won’t survive the adventure with my exuberant grand-dog. Perhaps I can take a cue from my mother and my childhood “garden,” and let my garden be just a yard–a place where all are welcome and memories are born.