I’ve planted gardens at each house we’ve lived in. Sometimes just a few herbs, but at other times, I’ve planted large gardens. Some plants have shifted between gardens with me: I’ve taken cuttings of roses and transplanted clumps of wedgewood blue tradescantia and old fashioned granny bonnets and a garnet penstemon from one place to the next, and then on again. Mostly, I’ve moved irises, old fashioned flag irises that I first got from my mother-in-law.
We first moved to Australia for for me to write my thesis. Alas, I could not bring my beloved plants with me, so this time I took clumps of irises and penstemon to my mother’s garden, and she looked after them for me. I didn’t need to take rose cuttings or granny bonnets: they came to me from Mum in the first place. Irises and penstemon have the happy habit of spreading, so when we moved back to New Zealand, around the turn of the century, Mum brought some of the plants back to me, and kept some in her garden. I acquired a few irises from the house we owned for a time in a village near Greenhills University, and carried them on to our next homes. And when we came back across the Tasman to Australia for a second time, some irises went back to her again. One is very precious: it blooms in mid-winter, and it is the most glorious combination of brown and gold. It is flowering in Mum’s garden right now.
(Description: Brown iris, in full bloom, with golden stamens. The petals are dark brown at the edges, and a softer, reddy brown in the middle.)
When we find a new home, and a new garden, when we return to New Zealand at the end of the year, Mum will bring this lovely iris back to me. With a bit of luck, there will be several tubers, so we can each have it in our gardens, blooming in the grey days of winter.
And bless her! She’s potting up herbs for me – rosemary, sweet marjoram, garlic chives, and alpine strawberries so far, with more to come.