Winter Flowers

Walking in the garden today I was overwhelmed by a delicious scent that I couldn’t quite place at first. Looking around I realised it was the beautiful Viburnum Bodantentse, a truly wonderful shrub in my garden.

This shrub has a story, like many of the plants in my garden.  I lost my husband in 2002 and really thought I could never be happy again but when I met Brendan a new chapter began in my life. As we began to plan a life together, I started introducing him to my family and he was universally accepted by all. One memorable visit was to my cousin Áine and her lovely husband Tom. We spent a very pleasant evening, with much of the chat around our plans for our future. We were planning to build a home together that would reflect our shared respect for the environment so we city dwellers were planning a totally new life in the country, building an Eco house on half an acre!

Áine and I shared a love of gardening, so the conversation inevitably turned to what did we plan to do with half an acre of a garden! Brendan was quick to say that he would give me a free hand in the garden – in other words, it was up to me! Already in his seventies it was his stated intention that he would not be starting to mow lawns again! I was already making drawings of possible garden layouts to surround the house we planned to build, and I shared some of these ideas with Áine. She immediately offered me pieces from her beautiful mature garden which I was delighted to accept. I said that when the house was built, I would come back to take her up on her offer! The conversation moved to other topics and eventually we rose to leave.

Áine insisted we should take cuttings there and then, as we didn’t visit them often and I could be getting the cuttings established while the house was under construction! Despite my protests, Tom was despatched in the pitch dark with spade and bucket, with Áine sending him in all directions by torchlight and the limited light from the house!  The bucket was quickly filled with various goodies. Then Áine took her secateurs and snipped off cuttings from the large shrub right outside her door.  “This is a great plant for wintertime” she said as she added half a dozen cuttings into the already overflowing bucket!

We returned to the apartment we were living in while waiting for the house to be constructed and next morning I surveyed the contents of the bucket. There were a number of herbaceous plants, some of which I recognised but some that were new to me. The Viburnum cuttings needed immediate attention. I had never tried to take cuttings before, so I was going on the advice from various TV programmes to learn the technique. Without much hope I potted up the cuttings and no-one was more surprised than me when one of them developed new leaves! I managed to keep the cutting alive while we went through the process of building our house and it was still surviving when we moved in the following Autumn. It had to survive another winter in the pot as work on the garden had not begun.  It finally got planted the following Spring and it was not very promising. With lots of other more pressing work to be done in the garden it was almost forgotten. Each Spring when I would weed the border where it was, I would remind myself about it. First one small branch, then another – and then it finally decided to get going! It is now a generous shrub and gives me so much pleasure when I walk past it – the perfume fills the air, and the pretty flowers are so welcome through the winter. But most of all, when I pass it I think of Tom and Áine who were so kind and encouraging when we were setting out on the adventure of our new home together.

4 thoughts on “Winter Flowers

  1. Joan Gallagher

    Our plants are all the more precious when they come with such lovely memories of the friends and family who gave them to us.


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