It has been just more than seven years since my darling “himself” left this life for another. Some days it seems like yesterday, but on others it seems a century.
I was in Cedar not long ago with my brother and two of the grandchildren phoned to say they still missed Jim, which is a real compliment, as they weren’t even his. They were mine and they thought the world of him.
Some of the male admiration came because Jim was a pilot in the Second World War. We took a photograph of a teenaged David wearing Jim’s uniform jacket, with his pipe clamped in the grandson’s teeth. He cherishes that picture.
The girls admired him because he was handsome and a gentleman (I liked it too).
Now about gardening, what can I tell you? What can I suggest?
Well, Herb’s garden is pretty much asleep for the winter. I had quite a time assembling a bouquet for the dinner table one night when he was expecting guests. It ended up being mostly greenery. some trailing periwinkle, some brown sword fern, a few stems of fatsia Japonica varigata, several of St. John’s wort and in the centre a fresh-looking Hydrangea truss. It was a mixture created in desperation, but it didn’t look too awful when complete.
A couple of candles would have helped, but I didn’t know where they were kept and my brother had no idea.
The food was delightful and no one mentioned the bouquet, so it wasn’t really a winner, but at this time of year what can you expect?
I had seen several Queen Anne’s lace plants which I coveted for this floral collection, but when I went in search of them, found that this “man of many talents” had obviously thought they were weeds and chopped them off at ground level. Oh well, we do the best we can with what is available.
No one said, “What is that mess supposed to represent?” so we got away with it.
My balcony garden looks pretty pathetic, although the carrot foliage looks spry enough. The chard has given up and so far the shallots haven’t even shown up. I guess I was expecting too much this late in the growing season.
I came home with a boxed amaryllis my brother wasn’t interested in planting, which was nice. I’ll start it off in a week or so, so hopefully it will bloom during the holiday season.
I can’t bring myself to mention Christmas shopping yet, although the advertising already has started. It seems to begin earlier each year, stirring people up, so that by Christmas time they are nervous wrecks, wondering if they have forgotten a gift for Auntie Myrtle’s second husband’s uncle!
Oh dear, Christmas gets to be a problem when it should be a time of happy celebration.
I swear I won’t mention Christmas again until the beginning of December … well, maybe I will, once or twice, when it seems absolutely necessary.
Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.