Very likely, I got my love of gardenias from my grandmother. These photos are of bushes that she originally planted on their farm in rural Mississippi, where my dad grew up. When they sold the farm, she had all of them dug up and transplanted to their new home near the city.
Her bushes now line the front of what became my parents home. I have no idea how old the shrubs are, but they have thrived happily at their current location for around seventy-five years.
The older varieties of gardenias are more resilient to disease and pests. However, they are still finicky and do not like to be moved.
My mom always got upset with my dad whenever he pruned the gardenias each fall. She thought he cut them back too much. Year after year, though, they kept on surprising her by blooming prolifically the following summer.
The day I photographed the gardenias, I had my own surprise of a visit by a butterfly. It flew around me several times before landing on a bloom. By the time I zoomed in, it had already left. Fortunately, I captured one shot before it fluttered off!
As I mentioned above, gardenias can be difficult to relocate. Twice, my dad rooted me a cutting, and then after letting it grow for a couple of years, gave it to me to plant at my house. Both times, I was unsuccessful at getting the plants to live.
It seemed as though I did everything correct. I made sure there was a good root system and proper soil, and always moved the plants during the fall. Each winter, though, I got worried when all the leaves fell off. It looked as though it needed pruning and I would do just that. I found out later that pruning was a mistake.
On one last attempt, my dad said that he would try planting one for me at my house. My husband dug the hole, and my dad put it in the ground. Then he gave me strict orders not to do anything to it, other than occasional watering, even if the plant looked like it was dying. This time, I minded my daddy.
That next spring, to my surprise, it made it. I now have one of my grandma’s gardenias of my very own.
What makes the gardenia bush even more special, though, is the fact that my dad planted it. You see, it was the last thing he ever planted on this earth. The same spring my gardenia showed signs of new life, my daddy went to heaven. Now, every time I walk past it, I think of him.
I suppose I got my sentimentality from my grandmother, too. Because of the memories associated with my bush, I know that if we move from our house, I will be doing the same thing she did. If we move, my gardenia goes with us.
For a similar post about Gardenias, see The Sweet Fragrance of Christ