Gardens planted with gift cuttings are memorable in more ways than one, writes Julie Thomson.
When a friend told me about her 80-year-old neighbour giving her some “Zillie lily” cuttings whose ancestors she had taken from her Zillmere State School garden 70 odd years ago — I pondered how much of my garden was begged and borrowed from friends and family.
Forget-me-not they say
Every garden transplant has a sentimental trail of living memories if you care to trace it forget-me-nots of another kind.
My four frangipani trees come from snapped branches of our former home in Brisbane, a tree under which our babies slept and played; bleeding heart vines that twist and trail around the pool fence were struck from part of a bouquet given to my daughter on her 18th birthday; my sun jewels and bromeliads started in another friend’s yard; our towering and spreading paddock fig tree was a potted housewarming gift when we moved here 25 years ago; the stately leopard tree that is home to our bird dynasty, came from a late uncle who was going into a retirement village 20 years ago and didn’t want to plant his free council tree at a property he was selling.
Two perfumed gardenias have special places at our front entrance – gifts from dear pals when my mother died. The gardenias’ delicious blooms each year remind me of what I have lost, but also what I have – thoughtful and loving friends who held me up and comforted me.
My tomatoes’ greatgreat-great-great-granddaddy came from a friend’s patch. The papaws and bananas germinated on Stradbroke Island.
The iris patch was snatched from a neighbour’s driveway; geraniums from an aunt, the hippeastrum rescued from a friend’s garden trampled during renovations.
My latest snatch is pups from a friend’s strangely beautiful bat plant.
I walk around my yard and see a living album of past and present loved ones. Like a keeper of the flame, I tend their gifts and delight in passing the torch on.
Sensible and sentimental
Starting and plumping out a garden with slips and cuttings from friends is more than economically sensible. You get keepsakes of them on view every time you look out.
For the giver, it’s having your cake and eating it too. You have the pleasure of the mother plant and the joy of watching it flourish elsewhere.