My Mum told me the most amazing story the other night. It totally blew my mind, so of course, I had to share it with you.
She has two rather wonderful plants in her garden. One is a cutting from her Grandmother’s house and one is a cutting from her Aunt Evelyn’s house. I remember my Great-Aunt. She was one cool chick. They were their favourite plants. You know the plant you think of when you’re thinking fond thoughts of somebody.
Mum says when they flower, it’s as if Auntie and Grandmama are saying hello. I think that’s pretty cool.
Apparently when Mum was a little girl, taking a cutting of a favourite plant from the garden of somebody you loved was what you did when they passed away. Whenever you moved, you took your beloved plants with you. It’s as if the family travelled with you wherever you went.
Now, my Great Grandmother was born in New Zealand in 1887. The McKays were one of the early settlers who came to New Zealand in search of a better life. Her Dad was a first generation Kiwi, literally. They helped to build the local Presbyterian church, created their family farm in Pigeon Bay in Christchurch (named after their home town, Pigeon Bay in Scotland), and they relied on the herbs and seeds they had brought over with them from Scotland. One of them apparently a beautiful little bush called gorse. Oops! (Search for gorse in New Zealand and you’ll see why *s*) I’m not sure when this particular plant came into my Great-Grandmother’s possession, but imagine the things it has seen. The stories it has witnessed.
My Nana used to tell me how the doctor came out once a month on horseback to tend to the families. In between you used hedgerow medicine, faith and common sense to see you through. It wasn’t that long ago. It wasn’t always successful either. My Great Great Grandmother lost two of her babies to diphtheria. Something that rarely happens now.
Sadly, alot of that knowledge has been lost. Fortunately, a lot of it is being remembered. Family herbals are being opened. Scientific research is testing the assertions contained in those family herbals. And we get to rely on the best of both worlds.
I really like the idea of planting cuttings taken from loved ones favourite plants. I can’t wait to meet these two special plants next time I’m ‘down-under’.