Cynthia L. Eppley, MA
Flowers and Their Legacy
“The earth laughs in flowers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Mom I come by my gardening skills honestly: my mother was a gardener. She tended faithfully to her gardens and I must have inherited her love of beauty and the wonder of it all. Although she is gone now, I brought many of her iris and peonies with me before the house was sold. My favorite iris is a yellow one that is as big as my fist. It must be staked up as it becomes top heavy. I thinned it out yesterday and left some up on the corner. A lady stopped by: “Can I have these? Really? I got some last year and it flowered this spring! It is just beautiful! Thank you so much!” The bright pink and white peonies are in their glory right now. Their fragrance is intoxicating. But they are losing their petals, and soon the earth below will be sprinkled with a carpet of vibrant color. It reminds me of the hymn:
“Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.” https://youtu.be/JwuDSw-9cUQ
It is as if they lifted their arms in praise of their Creator, and then spent, cast their petals down at their feet.
Debbi So many of my friends have been gardeners as well! Debbi Wellman, in Syracuse NY, was an avid gardener. She gave me catmint, Solomon’s Seal and Batchelor Button. Debbi is gone now, but I look at the plumes of purple catmint and think of her.
Keith and Audrey My brother, Keith and wife Audrey gave us one huge hosta. That one hosta grows quickly and has been divided so many times. When I thin it out, about every other year, I dig deep into the ground, and place the crowns up at the corner. People know that I do this, and every year, they stop by to grab a few. “These are free? Really?” Last year I had someone stop: “I grabbed some of these a few years ago and planted them in my back patio. They come up every year and are just beautiful!” I like to think that hosta is throughout Ambler in a living legacy of my brother.
Glenda My friend, Glenda, used to live in Wisconsin. Apparently, hosta reigns supreme there. I brought back several different types, as well as rhubarb.Rhubarb takes awhile to mature, but once it does, it is wonderful. Added to sweet strawberries, it gets folded into a buttery pie crust or a crisp. When I post it on Facebook, it is generally the favorite post of the year. I’m surprised I don’t have people camped out on my back porch waiting for a piece. Glenda also gave me my favorite perennial: my Bottle Tree! Hardy, resisting even the coldest winters. Needs no watering, and reflects the light of the setting sun in magical ways.
Paula My neighbor, Paula, is also an avid gardener. We exchange plants and frequent Rice’s Market together for hanging baskets. It seems that we can’t remember the “proper” name for plants. No matter. Beginning to talk about a particular item: “You know, the one that has the speckled leaves and the pink flower that’s about 4 inches high? That one!” We laugh at ourselves and share gardening delight. Snakes are a joint dread, especially in her compost pile. After a hard day of work, you may find us under her towering oak tree drinking a tall ice tea. That tree was planted by her husband, Joseph over 30 years ago, so that she would have shade. He is gone, but his legacy continues on.
Mearl Horner My brother-in-law, Mearl Horner, died this past April. He had a spiky purple plant that reached for the heavens: Liatris. He loved sharing his plants with me; I look forward to the blooms that will come in June.
The Green Cathedral We have created the entire backyard into a walking garden. I like to think of it as my “Green Cathedral”. A flagstone path welcomes visitors, and the tall swaying spruce trees shield it from the sun. It is a cool place of rest even on hot summer days. My Junior Choir sang “Green Cathedral” in church when I was a Pre-teen. I still remember the haunting melody and poignant lyrics so many years later:
I know a green cathedral, a shadowed forest shrine,
Where leaves in love join hands above and arch your prayer and mine; Within its cool depths sacred, the priestly cedar sighs,
And the fir and pine lift arms divine unto the pure blue skies
In my dear green cathedral there is a flowered seat,
And choir loft in branched croft, where songs of bird hymns sweet; And I like to dream at evening, when the stars its arches light,
That my Lord and God treads its hallowed sod,
In the cool calm peace of night.
So Why do I Love my Flowers?
I love community and people. And if I am out in my garden, people often stop by and tell me how they love the gardens. Bob graciously gives me most of the credit.
It is a way to connect with people, meet them, and begin friendships. Cheryl walked down my path last Spring, and we have been fast friends ever since.
The garden is a place of sacred remembrances.The flowers bridge the beauty of today with the precious lives that have gone before. Just today someone reminisced: “I remember as a young girl marching in the Memorial Day parade. I carried pink and white peonies and the purple catmint.”
And I delight in their praise. But is the praise for me? No the praise is for the glory of these miracles. As I look over the plethora of colors and textures? I see the glory of God displayed.
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
I remember the gifts from friends that have gone on before and are with Jesus. The legacy they have left behind brings me such pleasure and hope.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
Words of praise and beauty spring from within me. “You are just gorgeous today! Keep growing! And look at you! I didn’t know you were there!” I reach out to hold the bloom in my hand, wet with morning dew, sparkling in the new morning misty light. Stretching toward the sun, the bloom reaches for the Giver of life. Even creation points to the Creator, and the giver of all good gifts.
“God’s in His heaven, alls right with the world’, whispered Anne softly.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables