Homage Gardening

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham

With the recent passing of my aunt, memories of creating my spiral herb garden flooded back to me. This garden is an homage to her brother and each of the fathers in my life— my birth father, stepfather, and father-in-law. Every time I look at, pass by, or harvest one of my herbs becomes all the more sweet and tender as I dwell on the good times when each of these amazing men were kickin’ around this planet.

If you haven’t channeled creativity to help you through the passing of someone special, I highly recommend it. The physical work and thoughtful effort that it took to incorporate my connection with each of these wonderful fathers into my garden helped immeasurably through the first weeks after the last one passed. Since then, because I put so much love, intention, and thought into creating the garden, every time I pass by the spiral it’s like my dads are still with me.

The page about building this garden shows a photo array of the process. Most of the construction took two full days, but the filling and planting has been a longer process. I have several perennials in this garden, but each spring I switch out the annuals. I end up interacting with the spiral nearly every day during the spring, summer, and fall—each time I feel connection or recall some loving memory of one of my fathers. Every time, I walk away with a smile.

Though he wasn’t originally in the energies when building my spiral, I credit my maternal grandfather with my veggie gardening thumb—in a way, he’s spread throughout my whole garden. I grew up with stories and my mother’s memories of his Victory Gardens. My mother’s own green thumb turned toward flowers, containers full that never cease to bring beauty wherever she tends them. I’m eternally grateful to have inherited green thumbs on both hands.

Of course, once I created the Dads’ Spiral I felt that tinge of guilt that the moms didn’t have something as well. It was a bit tougher to create with the same spirit as two of my mothers were (and are) still living. However, I drew on my fondest memories and created an altar commemorating the strongly individual women that I call mom.

Not surprisingly, this garden features flowers. To the left of the altar, I have added a smattering of special irises that a dear friend gave me when she thinned her crowd. These balance out the annuals that fill the pots and field tile each season. Two of my sculptures are also present as my birth mother is definitely represented in my arting genes. Once all of my moms have passed, I plan on adding to this garden. Thankfully, I still have time for chatting and catching up with them before that time comes.

The creative process is different for each of us—in my opinion, there is no one right way. I tend to follow my intuition and feelings so it’s easy for me to sit with my imagination and the bits and pieces I have in my stash while they find their way into whatever I am creating. Others may want to use more direct and linear approaches.

Whatever your method, it can be very cathartic to feel the strong, melding connection to your loved ones as you build something in their memory within your garden. I can attest that it also feels wonderful to have the feeling of their presence whenever seeing that memorial throughout the seasons.

 Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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