Friday, August 27, 2010

My Mother's Garden: Beauty in Neglect

Cinquefoil, potentilla
I was not expecting to be in my mother's garden today. I spend an hour weeding and deadheading … having dirt under my nails takes away some of the anxieties of the past week. Was it only a week ago that I left the U.S. for England after received a phone call that she had fallen?  I am immensely sad to see signs of neglect in her previously immaculate borders. She was too unwell to tend her garden for some time; at 91 it is amazing that she did it for so long. But there is always beauty in a garden.

In my mother's garden August is the time for crocosmia and fuchsia. They are blooming around every bend.



The delphiniums are fading but they are still making a bright-blue statement among the fuchsias.

I love the way Mom's hydrangeas have several colors on one shrub.

Berries are appearing on the honeysuckle, speaking of a glorious summer and the promise of autumn.

The tree in the center of the neighborhood green, seen from Mom's window, is also bearing berries. I don't remember it's name, but I am sure one of my blogger friends will be able to identify it.

I remember the sundial from when I was a little girl. There is weeding to be done around it, but it is still a favorite spot of mine:

The rose garden is particularly neglected.  Mom can no longer remember the names of the few remaining blooms ... Rapidly advancing dementia, that terrible affliction, is robbing me and this garden of the lovely lady we knew.

A very cheerful sunflower has appeared outside her window. Flowers have a way of volunteering their beauty where they are most needed.

Hedges of quinces, with their apple-like fruit, border the front garden.

Oh, and I am so delighted to see, at last, the gorgeous sculpture I won when I entered Jo's competition at The Good Life. The delightful bird has given my mother so much pleasure and I can see why. I thank Jo again for her generosity.

Tomorrow, I plan to tidy the garden some more; maybe mother will feel well enough to sit on a bench and watch me at work. I hope so.


I took these photos and wrote the text on August 15, 2010, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dream's Gardens.  There is no internet link at my mother's house, so I was not able to post them until I reached an airport on my flight back to America.

I am sorry I haven't been able to visit your blogs lately. I look forward to catching up on your gardening news in the near future.

Love to all my gardening friends,

Pam x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Dear Pam, I am so sorry to learn the rather sad reason for your visit to your mother's garden and I sincerely hope that by now she is feeling more herself. Despite what you say about the neglect, her garden looks to be full of colour and interest at what is, as we all know, a difficult time of the year.

    I am sure that she will have been delighted with your visit and relieved to have someone giving the garden a little love and attention.

    Have a happy and restful weekend.

  2. Pam I'm so sorry to hear about your Mother not feeling well. But I must say her gardens still look quite beautiful to me. I had a dear friend from garden club who told me once she really needed to get out and get busy in her gardens because they were starting to look like an 81 (her age) year old woman lived there. I always thought that was so funny. But your Mothers gardens certainly don't look like that. I really enjoyed your pictures and hope she is doing much better.

  3. Pam...even neglected your mother's garden is a lovely place with such wonderful memories. I hope your mother continues on a path of wellness.


  4. yes, beauty is never lost, even in neglect. I sincerely hope she will get better. ~bangchik

  5. Rather a bittersweet return to England for you ... so sorry to hear you Mum is suffering from dementia. I do hope she recovered well after her fall.

    Your Mum's garden looks so lovely ... even if it's a little neglected! That Hydrangea is exquisite ... and the Delphiniums still look so lovely! Thanks so much for sharing this well-loved garden with us.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear about the reason for your trip, Pam, but I'm sure you enjoyed visiting with your mum nevertheless. I hope she's feeling much better now, I'm sure your arrival will have perked her up. I can now appreciate just where you got the inspiration for your own garden from, your mum's garden is just so lovely and what an achievement to still have it looking so good at 91 years of age. Thank you for showing the kingfisher in situ, I hope it's still bringing a smile to your mum's face. Hope you've had a safe journey back to America.

  7. I always wanted to visit England and see the beautiful gardens, but your reason this time was bittersweet. You mother's garden is still beautiful and you are so kind to get it back in shape for her. You are correct about gardens in neglect. There is always something beautiful blooming regardless. I did a post on a property the other day that was so in need of demolition, but one lone delphinium was blooming in the garden just as regal as it would in a well tended plot. It was such contradiction to its surroundings.
    Best wishes to you and your mother.

  8. I concur with the other commenters, even neglected your mother's garden is very pretty and full of blooms. Thank you for joining us for bloom day, even with everything else going on.

  9. I wondered why your blog was so quiet! Is there someone there now to care for your mother? Best wishes to her and you too. Her garden is gorgeous!

  10. Oh Pam, I was so sorry to hear that your mum had a fall, I sincerely hope she is on the mend, bless her ! what a wonderful age and still gardening, she is an inspiration to all of us gardeners.
    I hope your trip back was Ok.
    Take care.
    M xx

  11. Dear Edith, Thank you for your kind comments. My mother made a good recovery from the fall, but I am shocked how fast the dementia has developed. She was very delighted to see me, though.

    RainGardener, Love the story about your elderly friend! Thank you.

    Teresa, You are so kind. Many thanks!

    Bangchik, Thank you so much.

    Bernie, Yes, dementia is a horrible affliction. Mom's short-term memory is almost completely gone, but I am glad to say she has retained some wonderful long-term memories. Glad you like her garden.

    Jo, the kingfisher looks right at home in Mom's garden, doesn't it? Mom showed it to me with pride.

    Garden Walk/Talk, Welcome to my blog! I look forward to checking out yours.

    Carol, I love bloom day and try not to miss it. Thank you for your kind comments.

    Robin, I worked with Mom's doctors and the social services to put supports in place. I employed caregivers and have several friends visiting her regularly.I'll go back at the end of October to review the situation. My goal is to keep her in her own home as long as possible. It is difficult being an "only child" and so far away. Thank you!

    Maureen, Yes, Mom is remarkable for 91. The problem is the dementia ... Thank you so much for your support!!

    Love to all of you. Pam xx

  12. Pam,

    Sorry to hear your mother is not well. Her garden is lovely, and her roses; divine. I pray that her garden will bring her peace in these days of uncertainty. It brightened my day......

  13. Chris, You are very kind! I really believe flowers, especially roses, have healing powers. Pam

  14. Love to you too Pam. I hope your mother is feeling better, and I was especially touched by your line about dementia. It does rob us of those we love. Thank you for the photos of her garden. Hugs to you.

  15. I stopped by a few days ago but was unable to comment so I am back. I love your mum's garden. How wonderful to have shared something so personal as gardening with her all these years. If what i see, is what you call neglect, I can hardly imagine the garden when it was at its peak. Hope your mum is perky again soon. Happy Gardening Meg

  16. Pam I'm sending you out my prayers and hugs.. May Divine powers guide and strengthen you in this new journey with your Mothers illness..

    Her Garden is so neat and pretty, my eyes can't find the neglect, Thank you for sharing it with us.

  17. Beautiful, and sad, too...

    How precious that you can connect with the one you love and with your own childhood through this garden...

  18. Dear Pam - how sad to have to watch the decline of your mother and your childhood garden in England. It must be hard having to manage both from afar. For all that, the garden is still lovely - and even without names, the roses still glow. No wonder you wanted to recreate this in your own home

    hoping and praying for the best

    Laura x

  19. Your Mom's garden is lovely. It must give you great satisfaction to tend to her garden. I know when we visit my husband's Mother in the spring/summer I need to help her out with her veggie gardens...I can put in a full days work that would take her a month to do.

    I was feeling sad just hearing you speak of your Mom, then when you said 'dementia' it brought it home to me. Hope somehow you and family can keep her happy.

  20. Dear Pam, I wish you and your mother all the best. Seeing her garden, even as it is now (still lovely!), makes it clear where your love of gardening came from. How wonderful that you can still connect with her by tending her garden now that she's ill.

  21. what a vast variety of flowers.

  22. Pam, I am sorry about your mom. 91 and still gardening ... that is something! Her garden does not look very neglected to me... I am so used to my jungle. It looks gorgeous. I do hope she will feel like sitting on a bench for I would imagine it will give her much pleasure and joy to see you at work in her garden. Best of luck! This is a beautiful post and tribute to your mom's hard work and creative design. I hope she is tip top very soon. ;>)

  23. Dear Pam,

    My heart goes out to you!
    I hope that you find comfort while you complete some of these tasks. I lost my Grandmother to dementia. It was difficult but she was almost 99!

    p.s. your mother's garden is gorgeous, even if it was neglected.

  24. Hello Pam,

    I apologize for the lateness of my comment. I enjoyed this post very much because it was a wonderful expression of both you and your mother's love for gardening. I do hope she continues to recover quickly :-)

  25. Dear Gardening Friends, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of good wishes for my mother and me at this difficult time. It helps a lot knowing I have such caring friends out there. Thank you all so much. Pam xx

  26. I'm glad I got to see your mother's garden, but I'm sorry about the circumstances surrounding your visit to her. I hope she is healing after her fall, and is able to enjoy some outdoor time.