Sweet peas are as good a reason to garden as any. Their ease of cultivation along with the sheer abundance of flowers with their heady aroma make them the signature flower of any summer around here.
And they are a particular favourite of mine because they have always been associated with my mother who grew them every year in profusion. Since she passed away we celebrate the first sweet pea of the summer with a small toast to mum as it will always, without fail, be blooming on 10th July – her birthday. It is this connection with the past and with those whose passion helped create this garden which motivates me to continue. I’ve said before how gardening gives me peace of mind and time to reflect and brings me closer to the memory of those no longer with us.
This summer we have another person to remember as we plant, weed and harvest. Lynn finally succumbed to cancer in May, leaving the bookshop in Mrs B’s hands to continue in her name, but also leaving a wealth of anecdotes and fond memories of a lovely person who adored her garden (and allotment) as well as being delighted to help others.
When Mrs B was undergoing her course of chemo, it was Lynn who took it upon herself to come and clean the greenhouse (probably to a higher standard than she would have cleaned her kitchen). When we started to cultivate the veg patch Lynn was always keen to pass on any plant that needed re-homing. In that first spring she kindly planted some garlic and raspberry canes at one end of the veg patch. I was never sure where the garlic was as Lynn was never great at labelling things. But the raspberries continue to battle on alongside the gooseberries. The thriving blue irises were conveyed to us by Lynn and latterly a large clump of white Asters will remind us once again of Lynn’s generosity when they bloom in a couple of weeks.
It is heartwarming that different plants can remind us of the good people and the good times. Not so much a garden of remembrance as plants of remembrance. The only small problem we might have created for ourselves this year is that the first sweet pea – incredibly for us – bloomed on 27th May: the day of Lynn’s funeral. The significance was not lost on us, so it looks like the annual celebration of the First Sweet Pea might have to be brought forward a month and a half from now on.
But sweet peas will always remind us of both Lynn and my mother..