Hand-me-down Plants

Viewers and readers share stories of plants that hold a special place in their gardens -- and in their hearts.


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We asked you to tell us about plants that have passed to you from loved ones, and you flooded us with wonderful examples. Here are a few. — ed.



A Rose in Bloom

About a year before my father died, I asked him for a cutting of a long-neglected little rose bush that grew beside his gate. He kind of shook his head and grinned. I think he wondered why I would even want a cutting from this ragged little bush. I took it home and gave it all the love and attention it deserved — after all that, it grew only about a foot in a year. We sold our home and moved across the country and the little rose bush was yanked up by the roots and unceremoniously stuffed into a small pot for the trip. We lived in a hotel for two months and put the little rose in the window. It finally decided to start growing, and by Christmas had three little blossoms on it. We finally found the perfect place for the little rose and by this summer it was nearly 3 feet tall and covered in blooms. — Kathleen, Tennessee



In Memory

I've kept my only sister's memory alive by caring for the plants received from friends and family after her passing. A day doesn't go by that I'm not reminded of the time spent with my sister. — Sherrie Brenner, Illinois



Nan's Plant

In 1965, my grandmother (aka Nan) gave me a small cutting from her mother-in-law's tongue to take to college with me. Having a piece of the plant was Nan's way of making sure that I had something from home to remind me of her and my grandfather. The plant thrived despite living in a dormitory with five other residents and receiving a combination of over-watering, colas to drink and going for weeks with no sustenance at all. After college, Nan's plant suffered a major disaster — it was allowed to freeze. I went out to gather the mail and there it was, a mass of slimy gray/black goo hanging over the side of the planter. As my dear Nan had died only a few months before, I was devastated that the plant too might be gone. But it managed to recover in the warmth of the house and has been thriving since. Nan's plant has been very forgiving over the years and has rewarded us with beautiful, sticky blooms several times a year. — Sandy Davis



The Plant in the Window

When I met my significant other 15 years ago, I noticed his parents' home had no plants in it and took one of my plants to hang in his mother's kitchen window. She told me she didn't know how to care for a plant and that it would die, but I reassured her. The plant prospered over the years. After "Mom" got sick and passed away in January 2005, we left the plant hanging in the window as we prepared her home to sell. The last thing I removed from the home was the plant — it's in my window now and reminds me of a special lady I miss every day. — Elizabeth Cohen



Four Generations and Counting

I hold this wonderful plant near and dear to my heart. I don't even know the name of the plant, but I love it so. When I got married, my mother gave me a plant started from a cutting given to her by her mother — and my grandmother's plant was given to her by my great-grandmother. Every time I look at the plant, I find it amazing that all the cuttings still thrive today — I know some have been around over 38 years. — Cindy Myers

Remembering Dad

In 1978, my father — then 56 years old — was diagnosed with cancer and hospitalized in a dark and drab room. To cheer him up, I purchased three plants (and a ceramic pig) that traveled home with him upon his release. Three weeks later he passed away and I inherited the plants (and the pig). Over the past 27 years, many generations of these plants have been potted — all three of my children and grandchildren have offspring of the original plants. Each time we pass on a new generation of plants, we're reminded that Dad/Grandpa lives on. — Cathy Hensel

Miss Harriet's Cuttings

Years ago, our church group made a holiday visit to a life-long member, Miss Harriet Johnson. From her historic home, she shared cuttings from her mother's original Christmas cactus, which was over 100 years old (as was Miss Harriet). Miss Harriet passed away at 107, but I still have my cactus — the only one that survived. — Jean Roesink, North Carolina

Birthday Peony

I have a lovely white peony that was part of my grandmother's plant. When I was 9, my uncle picked a bouquet from Grammy's peonies and gave them to me as a birthday gift. Grammy's home sold about nine years ago, but I was able to dig up some of the peonies for my own home. My love of gardening came from Grammy — and nurturing her peony always keeps me in touch with her. — Jane

Lily of Remembrance

Several years ago, my husband and I had tried hybridizing our first daylilies.The day the first seedling bloomed I had to hurry my husband out to see the beautiful bloom.It was the last daylily he saw, as he passed away the next day from a heart attack. I'm a member of American Hemerocallis Society and am naming the lily "Angels Whispering" in his memory. — Judy Berg, Iowa

Pass-It-Forward Plant

Jean, my neighbor across the street, once gave my son a pincushion cactus for a school project. Over the years, it has grown into a larger cactus, put out two trumpet-like flowers that last for a day, then doesn't flower again for a year. I repot the baby plants, name them, include some [fertilizer] and planting information and give them away to people in nursing homes or hospitals. Jean has Alzheimer's now and is widowed, but in this way, her gift continues. — Diana Prollock, Oklahoma

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