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SHARING SECRETS: Plants You Remember

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let's Talk Plants! January 2022.

Current question:

What plant or plants do you remember from your grandmother's, mother's, father's, or grandfather's garden? Do you grow an heirloom plant that you remember from one of their gardens?

Stock photo of a sunflower.


Site file of Rosa 'Mr. Lincoln' at a previous SDHS meeting.

Kathy Puplava mentions…

... My parents grew 'Mr. Lincoln' red, fragrant hybrid tea rose and I have one also. Beautiful and very fragrant, it reminds me of their rose garden.


Stock photo of bearded iris.

Tynan Wyatt of 91910, simply states…

... Definitely bearded irises. My father always had these beauties in the garden growing up and I became a fan of their (slightly odd) scent along with their gorgeous petals and "beards". As an added bonus they are a wonderfully tough plant that wants to survive almost any place you plant it.


Ida Rigby, who proposed this question of 92064, states:


I still can smell the heavy mid-western, grassy scent of my grandmother’s Chicago garden and see its mysterious (to a child) nooks and crannies. I cannot grow the prairie wildflowers nor that phlox I adored; I can replicate her giant sunflower.

This summer I made a little rock garden to support my new herb garden and longed for the plant that filled the spaces between the white slabs of regional stone that was her rock garden. Neither I nor my brother could remember its name, then, thanks to the Hort Society’s Book Club, I read Thomas Christopher’s, “In Search of Lost Roses.” In the chapter on the Sierra Foothills Gold Country, p. 159, I read a letter from a 49er: “Mother, send me a head of ripe dill, a pinch of portulaca seed, a poppy seed case from the fence corner.” Eureka! Portulaca. It’s now in my rock garden supporting my new culinary herb garden. (Did that request ever humanize men I had considered pretty rough lot!)

My pomegranate trees bring memories of my parents' Los Angeles garden. Much to the consternation of neighboring parents, it grew in the front yard. We, of course, loved late November when we could play with the pomegranates and irredeemably stain our hands, clothes and the sidewalks ruby red. I still enjoy descendants of Mom’s Queen’s Tears Bromeliad, her violets, and her cymbidiums. Our gardens are our Eden and also ways of returning home.


Debbie Honeycutt of 92131 shares,

My Cecil Brunner rose 'trees' are a homage to my mother’s garden ... there is still a huge bush (with lots of double pink roses) still there that is older than me (probably planted prior to WWII). I have trellised it against my fence.


Carolyn Buchman of 92028 remembers…

... Long ago our family picnicked at the La Brea tar pits I must have been around nine or ten. We were under a pomegranate tree which I doubt exists in its original spot today. There was a huge pomegranate hanging at the top of the tree and it was impossible to reach. My father had me climb on his shoulders and then stand in his hands as he lifted me up to the fruit. As I extended myself as much as I could I barely reached the pomegranate. The second try I held onto a branch and pulled it toward me and we had it. Our family feasted on this pomegranate. I made sure to save six seeds. Of the six seeds three grew into the tree that is still at my parents’ home. It gives huge, delicious fruit. I have taken a cutting to graft onto my tree which is still small but is growing now at my home. There is a power in seeds, a memory and love of family which grows on for those who are fortunate to experience it.


Stock photo of lilacs.

Lucy Warren of 92014 laments…

. . . Unfortunately, I cannot grow my grandmother's French lilac in my own garden but every time my father moved, I made certain that he took a piece of that lilac and it now grows in my sister's garden and in the garden of my best friend from childhood.


Linda Canada of 92122, remembers…

Linda Canada, age 2, sniffing tulips!

. . . I grew up in Upstate New York, so my grandfather's garden contained many flowering plants which bloomed in the spring (which could come as late as May!) From a young age, I loved tulips, and I'm shown here at about age 1 1/2, sniffing one of my favorite flowers. Unfortunately, I now live in coastal San Diego, so tulips aren't something I am able to grow with much success. Now I love flowering succulents and I do fairly well with them.


Steven Gerisher of 90041, from Eagle Rock, CA (between Pasadena and downtown LA).

This pink and purple hybrid Epiphyllum cactus was one of the Gerischers' and dates from 60s or early 70s.

My father's parents collected Epiphyllum cactus, mainly from cuttings exchanged with fellow church members. I now live in that same house my Dad grew up in; Gerischers here for over 80 years. This pink and purple hybrid was one of theirs and dates from the 60s or early 70s. I've been given multiple names for it but there are literally dozens and dozens of this sort. Still love it and now collect them myself.


Anne Murphy shares…

Stock photo of daffodils.

. . . While I primarily plant Ca natives, I enjoy the small daffodils and snowflake bulbs that I remember from my childhood in England. I love the Lady Banksia rose and Cecile Brunner. Oh - and anything with blue flowers.


Cathy Tylka of 92026 remembers…

. . . Granny’s fig tree. My Granny lived in Alabama and made the best fig preserves you ever had. I try but cannot get it just right, but everyone loves them just the same.


Cindy Sparks Bruecks of 92107 shares…

. . . I grow a couple of things right by my front entry that remind me of earlier gardens. I grow Creeping Charlie, so popular in the 70's as a house plant but it grows outside just fine in my seaside garden. Also, I grow Queen's Tears, a no-fuss bromeliad and also from my mother's garden. They are in pots in a strange little space about 10" by 8 feet alongside the front entry, now a ramp so gentle it's hardly noticed as an elder-friendly ramp. I have a row of mostly bromeliads in that spot which in winter receives very little direct sunlight.


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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