I feel like since I found out my Nanny B had roughly 6 months left to live at the beginning of the year, I have definitely bought more plants than ever.
Maybe this is just coincidence or it’s the time of year, but I do feel like it is my way coping amongst a time of so much change. My nan passing, a new career, uncertainty and moving from a house to a narrowboat; the constant of plants, new life and hope for the future has kept a sense of happiness.
Yesterday, my amazing, totally inspiring and beautiful nan passed away. Leaving me totally heartbroken and torn apart, but she is not gone though. She is with me in every plant I grow and every talk I do. See she was fanatical about gardening; edibles, flowers, trees, everything, just like my grandad who passed away over 18 years ago too.
My nan taught me so much about gardening and as a child I stayed with her over the holidays, exploring her dream like garden and helping her as much as I could. I call it dream like because it had more hiding spaces for ‘hide and seek’ than you could ever imagine, lots of tiny paths, different levels, endless plants, a stream full of koi karp and a greenhouse that would make many envious. All in a standard terraced house garden on the outskirts of Poole.
Every week until she passed we chatted for at least 30 minutes at a time; sharing gardening adventures, old family stories and also mischievous, silly moments that only we ever shared between us. Those calls were our time, and with every call it was clearer how similar we really are. See my nan wasn’t just fanatical about gardening like me, she also suffered many mental health struggles over the years and sadly spent part of her childhood in care.
Unlike me though, my nan was never lucky enough to have private psychotherapy, so when I did last year, she got a bargain. I would have my sessions, then ring her and share all the tips I learnt and chat things through. Gardening though was her permanent therapy throughout her life alongside family support, the thing that reduced her anxiety and kept her mind focused on the positives and future ahead.
Advice, my nan was full of it – general life, work, men and of course, gardening! Just last week I was sat in the hospice with her and we started chatting about gardening straight away of course. Her last tip to me which I now share with you is about roses. They love to be planted above a layer of broken egg shells, banana skins and….old worn leather shoes. I asked just leather shoes or any leather goods? Bags? Purses? Coats? She just laughed.
This will be the last ever tip she will give me about anything which hurts my heart just writing and thinking about it, but I know that she will be with me every step of my life, just in other ways. Life at No.27, the school based therapy programmes and also the adult therapy will always be partly for her. A range of programmes that both her and I never had, but would of loved and thrived in.
So I now I sit here, coming to the end of my need to keep writing and pour out my love. After a full day of gardening of course though! I was meant to be going to RHS Malvern, but I needed to be at home, in my own thoughts, grieving, crying and being with loved ones. So that’s what I did, as well as visiting my favourite garden nursery, the independent and family run Bunkers Hill Nursery. Buying more terracotta pots, you can’t have too many surely?! A selection of alpines and one of my all time favourites too, Cosmos.
I then came home to the towpath and we planted everything up. These and all my other recent purchases; a Geum ‘Mai Tai’, Papaver ‘Oriental Poppy’, Salvia ‘x sylvestris Mainacht’ and a Acanthus Spinosus.
My heart feels soothed.
Tomorrow will be a day of exactly the same.
One thought on “Bringing new life to sad times”
I’m so sorry for your loss. It was lovely to read these memories of your nan – your description of her garden reminded me of my mama’s garden. Although it was only small, it seemed larger to me as a child.
You are right, your nan will always be with you. We never really lose the people we love and it is wonderful to feel she helped pass on her love of gardening – a lifelong pleasure to you. You will have given her so much happiness and joy in return.