Planting memories

by | Nov 28, 2012 | Uncategorized | 11 comments

 At the beginning of November it was the first anniversary of the death of my dear mother-in-law, Elizabeth. She was 95 and we had been friends for over 40 years.
When there has been a big loss, I always like to plant something. As the plant unfolds, so do my memories.
I don’t have a garden any more, but on the day of the anniversary I spotted this amaryllis in a shop, and bought it to bring home. I liked the promise held in that passionate bud, and the presence of the smaller one lower down.

 At first the petals looked liked propeller blades, ready to fly away. Elizabeth was a great traveller. She flew, bussed, drove and rode in trains all over the world. When she came to New Zealand she travelled overland through the middle east as war was breaking out all around. She was diverted by a stay in Hong Kong for a year or two, where she taught English.

 Her entry visa to New Zealand expired because she had taken so long getting here and had been out of reach of communications on her overland journey. So she went to Australia where a fellow-traveller had a little cottage on her land, and there she stayed until she became an Australian citizen. This gave her free entry to New Zealand,

 where she arrived at the age of 70 and set up house in the Bay of Islands. Her home was full of exotic objects collected from her travels over the years.
As both buds on the Amaryllis have been spreading their vibrant petals over the last few weeks, Elizabeth has been in my thoughts,

and with these flowers I celebrate her adventurous life.


  1. Max

    She sounds like a facinating woman. I like living memorials like that. We planted two kowai when we lost our twins, they were in season when they died. Its very healing to watch claud run the floppy branches through her hands as she often does x

  2. juliet

    Max, how sad to lose your twins. You know exactly what I’m talking about. I have a kowhai tree that was planted on the placenta of my first granddaughter who died at 6 weeks. Plants are such poignant reminders aren’t they?
    Thank you for visiting and for your touching comment.

  3. Hotly Spiced

    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your MIL but what a great innings she had. I think it’s lovely that you choose to remember her with plants and flowers xx

  4. Penny O'Neill

    Can it be a year already, Juliet? How time flies, but, a year pales in comparison to the span of your mother-in-law’s 95 years of adventure and grace. You honor her beautifully here with your words and an amaryllis is a perfect plant to remember her by.

    I love amaryllis and try to have one through the holiday season here. It is a great plant to grow with children as it grows almost before one’s eyes. Hmmm. I think I know what I will be buying soon.

  5. Ruth

    What a wonderful way to share memories of a dear friend.

  6. juliet

    * Charlie, it was an intuitive choice, but feels perfect. She had a good innings indeed.

    * Penny, the year has gone by so fast. You are so right about the amaryllis growing quickly. Mira has been watching it with me, and every time she visits it has bloomed a little more.

    * Ruth, the memories feel very alive as I watch the amaryllis blooming.

    Thank you Charlie, Penny and Ruth, good to see you here.

  7. Lynley

    What a glorious colour Juliet.

    And a lovely way to remember someone so special to you.

  8. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. juliet

    Lynley, the colour keeps surprising me with its vibrancy. The memories have been very special. Thank you.

  10. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – wrote a longish comment and something ate it and switched my machine off – soooo frustrating.

    Loved what you’ve done here – and that ruby colour is just delightful. I must think about this idea for my mother in a 7 months’ time .. something for the lady in red.

    Your MIL sounds like some formidable lady – and a one off .. great she lived so long ..

    Love the amaryllis .. so gorgeous to look at – have a great weekend. Cheers Hilary

  11. juliet

    Hi Hilary, thanks for persisting with your comment! Yes, the lady in red would inspire many a fine flower. The amaryllis is perfect for our spring/early summer because it unfolds so quickly. I’m still enjoying it.


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