Memorable Gifts for Mom
Readers share their favorite memories of gardening gifts.
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Thank you for all the wonderful e-mails describing memorable Mother's Day gifts. Although we couldn't respond to them individually, we read and appreciated every one. Here are but a few:
Several years ago I received 300 pounds of composted cow manure for my hosta beds. It was the sweetest and most thoughtful and practical Mother's Day gift I ever received. And I've enclosed proof of how wonderfully the hostas have been growing ever since.
1965: This was going to be my first Mother's Day in our new house as we had moved in the summer before, and this was a wonderful spring. My four children were ages 9, 6, 5 and 9 months. The wonderful cards they had all made at school were proudly displayed on the fridge. After being treated to a gourmet bowl of Cheerios, my 6-year-old disappeared into the backyard for "a special surprise." She came back 10 minutes later with the prettiest little pot of poison ivy you ever saw. I don't think she got quite the reaction she was expecting, as I gasped and grabbed her and stuck her in the tub for a soapy scrub-down. I still laugh when I think about it. Certainly one of my most memorable Mother's Day garden gifts.
For Mother's Day in 1963, I had only my allowance to spend. [My mother] loved roses but was allergic to the thorn scratches. I gave her a simple 'Don Juan' climber with a trellis I made from our neighbor's fruit tree trimmings, a bag of rose potting soil and a card saying "one dozen will never be enough, only a lifetime of roses for you." I planted and cared for them every Mother's Day after that until we had to move. Every time she moved, a 'Don Juan' was planted on Mother's Day. My sister took over when we were transferred. My mom had red roses until she passed away.
Last year my daughter-in-law made me a flower pot with flowers in it. But the best part--she also made special flowers that had my grandchildren's pictures on them. My grandchildren even painted the outside of the pot. The pot is now in my bathroom window, and I smile each time I water it.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a climbing rose. It was planted beside the porch and grew up to and across the roof of the porch and down the other side. It is a memory I will forever cherish. Years later when the state decided to build a highway, she had to move. When she left, the last thing she took was that rose bush. She planted it beside her new home, where it grew beautifully, as did all her plants. One day she called my mother and told her to come and get a piece of it to plant in her garden. As the resident digger of all plants, I was elected to take my mother to Granny's house to retrieve a piece of the rose. A few years later my grandmother passed away, and the house was sold. Had it not been for her foresight in calling my mother, we wouldn't have a piece of my granny's prized rose bush. Now when I see it I always think of the day I dug until I was nearly exhausted to get a piece of our family's most cherished possession.
Everyone who knew my grandmother called her Granny; her name was Nancy Griffith. I think she could have grown rocks if she had so desired. Every thing she touched was healthy and beautiful. Thank you for the opportunity to tell this little story of my dear sweet granny.
One year in May all five of us "kids" got together and met at Mom's house. We brought picnic food, tools, flats of annuals, fertilizer, and of course, the grandkids. Thankfully the day was beautiful--sunny and warm for Michigan.
With an acre of lawn and garden, plus arthritis, our widowed mother was overwhelmed. Between all of us, we raked, mowed, weeded, planted, trimmed, swept and cleaned. Even the young children were included in picking up sticks and fetching supplies. Although no major projects were accomplished, the place was spring-ready by late afternoon. Then we enjoyed a meal together and played, using the big (groomed) backyard to teach the kids how to play Wiffle ball. The swept asphalt drive was put to use helping the young ones ride a two-wheeler with uncles holding the bike steady for shaky riders until they gained confidence. It was a memorable day. I believe Mom enjoyed having the whole family play as much as work, using her family home as a gathering place.
Mom passed a year ago, before Mother's Day, but we had heard she was hoping for a repeat of the year we were all in town, consolidating our efforts at home.
Dottie Laethem Lualdi
To me, gardening is such a therapeutic passion. A few Mother's Days ago, my daughters blindfolded me and drove me to the local garden center. There they let me pick out any and all the plants that I liked and when we went home they helped me plant all of them. Knowing how much they don't like gardening, it really made it so special for me because they were truly thinking of making my day extra-special.
My mom is getting on in years so I put this little number together for her on Mother's Day. I love ya, Mom! You should see her go.
Many years ago when I was a young teen, I had an argument with Mother; this was unusual as we had always been best of friends. I felt guilty and read a story ... about giving a hyacinth to a "friend" to say you are sorry. For the next 40 years, I sent Mom a hyacinth either for her birthday (April 6) or Easter, whenever they were available. The last four years of her life she lived with me. I now look out and see the last four plants I gave her--which I planted in a little area outside my bedroom window--and think of her.
My favorite Mother's Day present was about 20 years ago... My three children knew that I love to garden and wanted to have fresh eggs and a more organic fertilizer for my flowers. I worked evenings, so on Mother's Day they let me sleep in as long as they could. They came into my room where I was fast asleep and placed a box full of baby chickens in my bed! Some of them jumped out of the box and the laughter from the kids at my waking up with baby chickens all over me in bed was just too funny.
My husband was a very traditional 12-longstemmed-roses man up until a few years ago. I have convinced him (as well as my children) to give me rose bushes instead. I can plant them and enjoy the benefits all season long, instead of having 12 dead roses after a few days. Now that my children are adults they compete with their father in finding the most unusual or most colorful blooms out there! Once I even received a Venezuelan Peace Rose--talk about cool!
I would like to share my story of a special mom who [passed away] in December 2004. She lived with us the last seven years of her life and we shared a lot of memories and favorite things--like gardening and cooking. She was the master chef of the family and was always cooking for someone--a neighbor, daughter, sister or a friend. Her Mexican cooking was known throughout the whole family--everyone enjoyed gathering for one of her meals.
Her favorite flower was iris. She gathered all her irises when she moved in with us and with the ones that I had, she planted all of them in the front corner of my yard. Each year I have this heavenly garden of irises in bloom and I think of her especially on her birthday, March 31, just when her flowers begin to bloom.
Last year my daughter and her husband came over and planted flowers. They and their eight children also helped mow and trim my yard--no easy task since I have three acres. They continued to help me all summer.
On the last Mother's Day that my stepmother was alive, I drove five hours and spent a few days with her. A friend had given her a daylily in a pot. Mother was bedridden. I sat in a chair next to her all night and we watched that flower bloom. It was marvelous for both of us and a precious memory.
One year my daughter Karen gave me a $50 gift certificate to Binding Stevens, a nursery in Tulsa. The hardest part was trying to decide what to get. I know I spent the $50 about 50 times. I probably drove the people at Binding Stevens crazy. But I will never forget that Mother's Day.
I am 48 now. When I was 22, my mother-in-law began giving me geraniums every year for Mother's Day. I was not especially fond of them but happily accepted them, as these were my father-in-law's favorite. I am now a landscape designer myself and have a very fond spot for geraniums as well, for they take me back to my youth and all the learning and growing I've done since. I give geraniums now to my two daughters for Mother's Day, who seem to care about as much as I did. But I'll just sit back, wait, and watch, who knows?
My favorite Mother's Day was spent with my aging mom. It was back in the late 1980's; my parents had moved to Wisconsin from Illinois some years before. I put together all the makings for a brunch the day before, loaded up the car with flats of colorful annuals, and all the tools and shovels I could wedge in between my then-young son, myself and Spook, our lab. With the car filled to the brim, we traveled to their house. I popped the breakfast casserole into the oven, warmed up the cinnamon rolls, and prepared the fruit cups and muffins--the house was filled with the smell of springtime. [After breakfast we] went outside to enjoy the day...[Mom] beamed as she watched the bare soil light up with color. Within a few hours the plot she could see from the patio window was transformed before her eyes. Before I knew it she was hauling out lawn ornaments, cleaning and filling the birdfeeders and filling the bird baths, while soaking the newly planted flowers. The smell of the cooking, the spring breeze and the feel of the warm earth in my hands still come back to me when I remember that particular Mother's Day, but most of all I can see the joy on Mom's face.
My daughters always do something nice for Mother's Day. I think back to one time in particular that was really special. We had a cistern just outside the back door that we were no longer using. It was about a foot high and six feet across. We would sit on it, and the kids used it as a table for coloring in the summer. I had expressed some ideas about covering it with dirt and planting flowers to make it more appealing. When I woke up Mother's Day morning, the girls, ages 7 and 11, with some help from daddy, had prepared a fruit and toast breakfast and then took me outside to see the dirt and flowers for the new flower bed. We worked all day putting it together. It was the best Mother's Day ever.
My most memorable Mama's Day gift was not a gift that I gave to my Mama, but rather one that I believe she gave me. I went to a symphony-sponsored house tour with my daughter on Mother's Day in 1997, and spotted a cute terra-cotta frog sitting on a big mushroom. Her feet were crossed at the ankle. Her upturned smiling mouth was blowing a kiss. Her hand was stretched out directly to me.
One of my Mama's greatest gifts to all of us was that she blew a kiss with her hand for us to catch every time we separated. The more I looked at that frog, the more I was drawn to her, so I purchased it and put it on my kitchen window so I could see her every day when I wash the dishes. At that time I didn't realize the significance, but later that year I looked at that frog [and] felt an amazing sense of warmth like someone hugging me tightly and "saw" my Mama wishing me love, bidding me farewell with a million kisses from heaven. My Mama had died in February of 1997, and I can still feel her spirit touching me when I look at this sweet and enduring little terra-cotta frog blowing me a kiss.
Last year for Mother's Day, my son Bill, 22, dug out a grassy section along our patio. He filled it in with new soil, edged it and planted bulbs, annuals and perennials. This was his surprise gift to me as I was not my regular spring-gardening self. I had recently finished chemo and radiation for breast cancer and had also had carpal tunnel surgery. I was feeling down and didn't have enough strength to garden as I normally would at that time of the year. (I garden for my mental state!) What a wonderful surprise for me as I saw him digging away in our new beautiful garden! This is one of the nicest things my son could have done. As a new Mother's Day tradition, we've continued to extend this garden together. Bill bought me a hydrangea for Easter because he knew how much I admire them, but more importantly he knew it would fare well in our new plot.
Kathleen M. Dasher
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. At the time I had a son, 18, and my youngest daughter Amy, then age 13, at home. I was given eight months to live. My job as a nurse ended, so came the depression and side effects of chemo and radiation. There was very little money and Amy, knowing that I loved roses, brought me a 10-inch piece of a wild rose for Mother's Day. I planted it outside my carport, and as the years passed, it grew. I put lattice on the outside, and the vines grew until the lattice was completely covered. When my home became in very dire need of repair, the lattice had to come down, but I still have two rose bushes beside my carport--a constant reminder of the love my daughter brought to me on that Mother's Day almost 10 years ago.
About 15 years ago, I was becoming a gardener. There was a bank going from our yard down into a field [covered] by field grass. I had started digging it all out bit by bit, replacing it with perennials. I had also started clearing out the area under wild plum trees and sumac that run along our yard. All spring when someone would ask "where's Mom?", my husband or kids would just point toward the field.
Mother's Day weekend came, and as I was driving home, there in front of our house was a truckload pile of black dirt, and at the top of the pile was a yardstick with a big pink bow attached to it! What a surprise--it was the best Mother's Day gift I could have received. We still talk about this.
Every year my children (now 19 and 16) get bedding plants for me for Mother's Day. When they were little, they would go in the greenhouse alone and pick out a flat or two of their favorite flowers, and I would go back and write a check. Then we could go home and plant everything together. It made for a wonderful Mother's Day. They still go to the greenhouse and bring home surprises each year!
For many years now I have planted the annuals in my mother's garden for Mother's Day. I have also added some perennials so the work is less and variety more. She loves to sit in the yard and enjoy the flowers as she sips iced tea and reads her latest book. It's a gift that [keeps] on giving for the entire summer!
The first Mother's Day gift I remember was as a second grader. The year was 1956, and I was the youngest of five children in Louisiana. All of us second graders had ornamental pepper seeds our teacher gave us to plant in our own pot and soil. We were taught how to water and care for the new seedlings. Wow, they were beautiful--and all the colors you could imagine. The plants were nice and bushy and to see the little peppers grow was exciting. When the time was right, we wrapped the pots in colorful florist foil, put bows around them, took them home to [give] to our moms for Mother's Day. My dad was home before Mom was and saw the peppers and decided to eat them. You see, my Dad loved any kind of peppers, the hotter the better (he was Cajun). He didn't realize that it was my gift to Mom. I was very upset. Years have gone by and my dad has long since been gone. My mom is in her 80's now and not in good health. She was the ultimate gardener and had the biggest green thumb of anyone I ever knew. Now all she can really do is look at the yard and not be a part of creating some new plantings or beds or vegetable gardens. So a couple of years ago my sister, brother and I bought her some dogwood trees and crape myrtles for Mother's Day. They were planted in her front yard near her window so she can see them clearly. Most of my memories of my Mom are about cooking or gardening, and she gave me the gifts that were once hers. I love to garden and cook for friends and family. This year I'll get her a Myers lemon tree.
Carol Duvall shares a perfect gift idea for any dad, grandfather or great-grandfather.