Are there certain flowers, trees or shrubs that bring back childhood memories for you? The one that stands out in my mind is the Bridal Wreath spirea that my grandparents had on the corner of their lot in Litchfield. Just seeing it brings back memories of my childhood.
I was reminded of this again when I was at Ripley Cemetery in Litchfield decorating graves of my ancestors. There are so many of these spirea dotting the landscape of that cemetery, especially the older section. There are a couple planted near where my grandparents are buried.
When I was growing up, our extended family always went to the Memorial Day service at Ripley, the parade with the veterans, the two rows of American flags dotting the main driveway, the speeches and the gun salute to their comrades.
The Bridal Wreath spirea were always in bloom.
My oldest relative buried at that cemetery is the one who was part of the Home Guard at Forest City Stockade during the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862. He later fought in the Civil War. I wonder if there were Bridal Wreath spirea there at that time?
I would be interested in hearing from readers what plants or flowers bring back special memories in your lives. Do you have plants in your garden that have come from one or two generations before you and have special meaning?
We know there are annual flowers — those that grow, produce flowers and then set seed and die.
Perennial flowers are those that come back year after year.
Mike Heger from Chaska is co-author of “Growing Perennials in Cold Climates.” He says there are more than 1,700 varieties that thrive in cold climates.
He talks about long-lived perennials and short-lived perennials. Some short-lived perennials I’ve experienced include mums, delphinium and columbine. I’ve found that if you don’t cut off the spent flowers on columbine, they will self-seed.
Long-lived perennials — 25 years or more — include peony, iris, hosta and daylilies. And rhubarb seems to live forever.
Then there are the perennials that become invasive — old-fashioned ferns are just one example.
I have Virginia Bluebells that have taken over one small flower bed — but it has taken 30 years for that to happen. They are ephemerals — which means after they bloom in early spring, they disappear. I have them in a bed of hosta so by the time they have disappeared for the year, the hosta are up and beautiful.
Mike Heger’s book was printed in 1998 but is still relevant today. He goes into detail including bloom time, expected longevity, maintenance, years to bloom and preferred light.
Also, where to plant, how to care for plants, problems, and propagation are included in the book. I’m sure it would still be available at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where he worked for 15 years before establishing Ambergate Gardens.
He recently was a guest on Mary Holm’s weekly garden show, "Prairie Yard and Garden," on Pioneer PBS.
It is comforting to know that if we lose a perennial, it isn’t something we did wrong, it's just that particular perennial has a certain life span.
A beautiful place to visit close to home is Anderson Gardens, on the east side of Lake Ripley in Litchfield. A group of local gardeners take care of the area and do a wonderful job.
Take time to smell the flowers.