Mother's Day

In the Garden
Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Garden

     This Saturday is one of the biggest days of the year for garden centers.  Sunday is Mother’s Day, and flowers are a big part of the celebration.  Years ago, florists dominated the Mother’s Day market.  However, my mother never liked receiving cut flowers or corsages.  She always said she would prefer something she could enjoy longer.  It seems other mothers had the same feelings.  Soon, the hanging basket replaced the cut-flower bouquet as the choice Mother’s Day gift.  Mom could then enjoy her basket of petunias, geraniums or verbena all summer, as long as she remembered to water it.  Soon, more exotic flowers became the baskets of choice—bouganvillia, mandevilla and other colorful tropical plants.
     A few years ago, the Knock-out rose knocked the hanging basket out of first place as Mother’s Day gifts.  It seems that the hardy roses caught the eyes of mothers around the country and everyone wanted one.  That has led to trends that involve the total landscape.
     Of course, there is no single must-have plant that dominates Mother’s Day purchases these days.  Still, come Saturday, garden centers will be teeming with sons, daughters and husbands, desperately seeking a gift that will express their love for a very special woman.  Many will go beyond the plants in the garden centers to find many other gifts.   Fountains have become popular choices, as have decorative flower pots.  If mother is an avid gardener, a special garden tool or accessory may place the desired gleam in her eyes.  In short, for many mothers, a garden center is the perfect place to shop.
     The time for me to purchase Mother’s Day gifts is gone.  However, Sandhill Gardens still reflects a lot of her influence and the influence of her mother as well.  My mother’s favorite color was pink, and there is a lot of pink in the gardens.  In fact, a pink koussa dogwood  I purchased as a gift for her should be in peak bloom by Sunday.  It is adjacent to the sidewalk from my drive to the house, so her memory visits me each time I come and go.  Mom always enjoyed being in the gardens with me, but in her latter years could not stand for long periods.  I placed a lot of benches throughout the gardens on which she could rest, and most of them remain in place.  I find that I need to sit on the benches to rest now, but they always remind me of her presence.
     I cannot walk through the gardens without seeing plants that my grandmother set out nearly a century ago.  Lilacs, snowball vibernum, flowering quince, and old-fashioned roses still grow where she planted them.  Her favorite perennials, biennials and annuals still grow in the gardens, their seed having dropped and spread around over the years.  Bertha Hooten passed from this life in 1979, but my gardens still harbor her scents and beauty.
     Regular readers know that I take pride in having a succession of blooms at Sandhill Gardens.  It is difficult to determine when the gardens are at peak season.  However, it appears that may be happening right now.  The cool spring has prolonged the bloom period of many early bulbs and perennials and the recent warmth has brought on the blooms of later flowers.  The result is a tapestry of blooms that stretches around the gardens.  There are shrubs, trees and perennials blooming everywhere and many other plants add to the color with interesting colors in emerging foliage.  It truly is beautiful where I live.
     If you are blessed to have your mother still alive, treat her like a queen this week.  I will be treasuring bittersweet memories as I walk through the gardens.  I wish all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.


Please Login for Premium Content

Site Login Help

For current subscribers to The Salem Leader and The Salem Democrat, you can login to the site using the following information:

Username: Please use your full email address associated with your account
Password: Please use your last name. Passwords are case sensitive, so please capitalize your last name (eg: Smith)