Memorial Day Garden

Memorial Day Garden

Weigela blooms with Persephone in the background
Weigela blooms

Mid Spring, and the Garden is blooming. I love my weigela blossoms. My Gram had a weigela in her yard, and she would call me outside to see it bloom. I of course was resentful and sulky for this interruption. I made it clear to her that I could not possibly care about a shrub. I made it clear to her I had more important things to do. Now, when I see the pink flowers bursting open I think of her, and how lucky I was. More than that. I am humbled to know I cannot know the difference between something I should resent and the riches of the universe, so I have to stay grateful for everything this life offers.

Foxglove is opening. Buddleja grows out of split rock. Hosta covers ground. Heptacodium leaves shelter Persephone.
Foxglove is opening. Buddleja grows out of split rock. Hosta covers ground. Heptacodium leaves shelter Persephone.

This Buddleja is a treasure. I planted it in the center of the island, where it bloomed fragrant, deep purple cones of tiny flowers in August. I made many many bouquets, but the one I recall best was the one I brought to a memorial service for Uncle Mike, a war hero.

I was in a rush, and there no flowers in the yard except for the Buddleja, so I grabbed an armfull, cutting long, five feet branches. But what vase? It had to be heavy, so not to blow over in the wind. What about the silver coffee pot from my Dad’s battleship I use as a doorstop? When I took it from his basement, I said to him, ‘Why is this so heavy? I could not possibly hold onto this wooden stick and pour out of this great pot.’ And my Dad looked perplexed, and then smiled. ‘The Midshipmen did not have a problem.’

The memorial service was a simple open air gathering at Fort Phoenix. I carried the Battleship Coffee Urn holding head high spikes of blackish purple cones over to a great memorial rock, and set it down to form a stage. My Dad stood there and said to the sky, ‘Mike I want to tell this story, but you will have to help me with the details’. At that moment, Dad was dwarfed by the tall ship Ernestina, in full sail, behind him, moving through the New Bedford Dike. This is an impossible event, but it happened. The crowd looked at my Dad, hanging on every word as he told the story of how a Captain defended his ship, spending his very last magazine to save his crew.

Anyway, the Buddleja died a few years ago. I kept hoping for new growth, but it was not to be. We finally dug out the dead stump this Spring to make room for something else. However, a new Buddleja took root six feet over in the crack of a rock, which seems entirely impossible. It has been growing for several seasons, and is pretty big at this point.

LL's bubble mower and pink coupe are parked by bee balm, false indigo, iris, lady's mantle, peony and foxglove.
LL’s bubble mower and pink coupe are parked by bee balm, false indigo, iris, lady’s mantle, peony and foxglove.

Memorial Day Weekend, and I sit with coffee in my garden that stretches all the way from Gram to Dad to LL The best is yet to come.


Barbie Burr

Barbie Darwin Burr was born in La Jolla, California into a Navy family. Moving every year made gardening difficult, but not impossible for her father, a disciple of Scott and Helen Nearing and a man with a vast ability to imagine and create.

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