In this post Julie shares some of the memories of her lovely Mum and Dad, and shares how they have influenced her love of gardening and flowers. She also shares how to take a scented geranium leaf cutting.
January 20 1949 was the day my Mum and Dad were married at the Minster Church of St. George (St. George’s) Doncaster.
Mum was 21 and Dad was 26. They had a few days in Blackpool for their honeymoon. They had met two years earlier at rehearsals for a local thespian production of The Student Prince.
I remember Mum saying she had anemones in her bouquet. The few photos we have from that day are extremely small and in black and white so I’m not sure what other flowers she had. It is such a shame we have so little from their special day.
They are no longer with us so I’m just reliant on remembering what they told me about it years ago. Nowadays we have so many ways of recording moments from our wedding day - beautiful photographs taken by a wedding photographer as well as friends and family and video recordings which enable today’s couples to show their future children and grandchildren how it felt to be present at their wedding. How I would love to see a video of my parents’ wedding.
Just before Christmas, I decided to get our wedding cine 8 film out of the loft and I sent it off to be transferred to DVD so we could watch it again and show our children. There is no sound of course but it is in colour and it was so lovely to be able to show them what our wedding day was like and really good for us to see it again - just over 40 years later.
My Dad was a great nature lover and knew so much about the English countryside.
I often think of him as I’m scouring the Lincolnshire hedgerows for the perfect shaped branch for an arrangement or collecting sloes, elderberries or rose hips to transform into delicious treats in my kitchen.
Mum was always making jams, marmalade and chutneys and I definitely take after her for this. She also loved her flowers and spent many an hour in the garden especially when she retired. We had a beautiful weeping willow tree and a gorgeous lilac tree in the garden, and I remember lots of grape hyacinths (muscari) everywhere - they really do spread and can take over a border, but they made such an impression en masse.
In those days garden centres weren’t like they are today and Mum and Dad didn’t really buy many plants but swapped them with friends and neighbours. I still have crocosmia plants in my garden which she gave me from her garden and which in turn had come from my dad’s brother’s garden and which I remember seeing in swathes in his garden when I was a child. It makes me realise how many flowers were allowed to take over gardens in those days! I imagine they were just happy to have flowers that flourished and gave ground coverage. Last year I noticed the wild garlic which came from my sister’s garden emerging and a few months ago I transplanted some beautiful tall scented white phlox and pink nerines from my mother-in-law’s garden. Such lovely reminders of loved ones.
Mum was always telling me she didn’t have much success at seed sowing but was very good at taking cuttings and getting them to take.
One of the easiest house plants to take cuttings from is the money penny tree (crassulata ovata).
Mum gave me one of the plants she had raised from a cutting she took and I am still taking cuttings from it and giving them away as she did.
Another plant that reminds me of my mum, and also my dear friend Sarah is the scented-leaf geranium (also known as perlagonium) Rose of Attar. This is my favourite house plant as I love the scent and I like to bring scent into my home naturally. They are primarily grown for their scented leaves, which can also smell of eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon and orange. The fragrance is released when you gently rub the leaves between your fingers.
We love using the rose-scented one in our arrangements as they smell wonderful, are a beautiful lime green colour which lifts any flower design and are very long-lasting.
I added Rose of Attar to my daughter Jess' bridal bouquet and after the wedding took cuttings from the stems that were in the bouquet. This year I am taking cuttings from the plants these cuttings grew into.
The leaves can also be used to infuse cordials and we like to use them when adding floral arrangements to wedding cakes.
I have one plant in a pot on my kitchen windowsill which I grew from a cutting from a stem from my daughter’s wedding bouquet, one in my polytunnel and one which so far is surviving in a pot outside. Last year I grew one in the polytunnel and the difference between that one and the ones I grew as houseplants was incredible. You can put them outside in the Summer either in a pot or the border. Though you can take scented geranium cuttings at any time of the year (I did it in November the year before last and 4 out of 8 rooted), it is better to do so in early spring or late summer when there’s plenty of light and warmth but the plant is not in full bloom.
How to take a Scented-Leaf Geranium Cutting
Cut above a leaf node using a sharp knife.
Put into water until you have finished taking all the cuttings.
Remove the lower leaves.
Fill a pot with compost and insert the cuttings around the edge of the pot.
Water and place in a well-lit spot. I usually keep it covered with a plastic bag for a few days to prevent the cuttings from losing too much moisture. Make sure the cuttings have light, warmth and water.
When the cuttings have formed a good root structure, new leaves will begin to grow and you will see the cutting getting bigger.
Pot each cutting into its own pot.
I love that the rose-scented leaves that were in my daughter’s wedding bouquet can be enjoyed for years to come and that every year I take cuttings from it I have a reminder of my mum too.