A Memory Garden

Every year I plant a memory garden. I sow seeds that remind me of dear friends; like our friendship the seeds flourish.
The sweet flowers of Nicotiana remind me of my friend and garden mentor, Janie. Years ago she introduced me to Tobacco ‘Lime Green’; it was love at first sight. The flower color is the softest shade of green, it grows 3′ high. I sow nicotiana seeds inside and when the soil is warm I plant the seedlings in the garden. Two other nicotiana that I love are: Tobacco ‘Bella’ with pink and white flowers, it grows 5′ high and Tobacco Woodland with cascading white star flowers, it grows 4-5′ tall. Nicotiana grow in sun to partial shade; they look lovely tucked here and there in your garden.

"Lime Green' Nicotiana

Tobacco ‘Lime Green’

Tobacco 'Bella'

Tobacco ‘Bella’

Tobacco 'Woodland'

Tobacco ‘Woodland’ planted by my compost pile.

Tobacco- Nicotiana seed source: Select Seeds-antique flowers

The lovely blossoms of the Purple Hyacinth vine remind me of my dear friend, Shirley. A couple years ago she gave each of the ladies in our book club a dried pod; the pod held a gift of Purple Bean Hyacinth seeds. The seeds grew into a vine with lovely lilac and raspberry colored flowers. I grew my vine on a trellis; it can also be trained to grow on a porch railing, shrub or fence. I sow my Hyacinth seeds in the garden when the soil is warm.

Bean Purple Hyacinth Flowering Vine

Bean Purple Hyacinth
Flowering Vine

Bean Purple Hyacinth Seed Source: The Cook’s Garden

The delicate flowers of Breadseed Poppies remind me of my BFF, Beth. Last year tucked inside one of her beautiful handmade cards was a gift of Breadseed Poppy seeds. March of last year I sprinkled the tiny seeds on top of the frozen ground in a sunny part of my garden. The tiny silvery plants grew to be 3-4′ high. The blossoms resemble a water color painting. At the end of the summer, the seed head dries and turns brown; inside are thousands of tiny black seeds. If you save the seeds in a paper bag in the refrigerator, you can sprinkle them on the frozen ground in March.

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppy

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppy


Pepperbox Poppy seed heads

Pepperbox Poppy seed heads

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppy Seed Source: Renee’s Garden

The vibrant flowers of Nasturtium remind me of my dear sister, Terrie. The first time I saw Nasturtium was in her garden; brilliant shades of orange and red blossoms spilled over her window boxes. I start my Nasturtium seeds inside and plant the seedlings in the garden when all danger of frost is past.




  25 comments for “A Memory Garden

  1. February 27, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Wonderful! Thank you so much for providing sources for these interesting plants. I’m particularly interested in the pepperbox poppy. They can be sown so early? Also the nicotiana intrigues me, I think it would look grand along my potting shed. Speaking of potting shed, I grew some hyacinth bean vine there last year. You may enjoy this post:


    • February 28, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Thank-you Barbara. You will love the pepperbox poppy. At the end of last summer I left many of the dried seed heads standing. When I did finally pull them out I turned them upside down and shook them. If you look at the seed head photo you can see tiny holes at the top, that’s where the seeds come out. This season I’m hoping for baby plants to emerge, as they do reseed themselves. If you sprinkle the seeds on frozen ground, you will have flowers in summer. The nicotiana also reseed themselves in sunny locations. They will look lovely by your shed. πŸ™‚


      • February 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        I just received a seed catalog from one of my favorite sources and they carry the pepperbox. Interestingly, they do not have it in with the other poppies. but in the “culinary herbs” section. I’m eager to try!!


      • February 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm

        Good Luck! πŸ™‚


      • February 28, 2015 at 1:51 pm

        And have you tried growing ornamental gourds yet? I’m thinking I’ll give those a go this year.


      • February 28, 2015 at 5:29 pm

        I have not tried ornamental gourds but I believe Margaret Roach has. She has a wonderful garden site chock full of information. Her blog/website is called: A Way to Garden.com


      • February 28, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        Avid follower of her site for years. Isn’t she remarkable? And that garden of hers is just the most glorious thing. Good idea to poke around there for any gourd tips. I saw P. Allen Smith’s show this morning and he was featuring his – quite the dramatic addition to the garden.


      • Harry Link
        March 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        Hello Ellen, I saw what you wrote about my good friend Lee. Speaking of memory gardens, I have designed a memorial garden that will be built at the East Haddam senior center in honor of Lee. I would love to speak to you about it and Lee’s memorial service coming up. You can email me at linkster.hj.hl@gmail.com.


      • April 1, 2015 at 11:08 am

        A memory garden is a thoughtful way to honor Lee; a place where generations to come will be touched by his love of nature.


  2. Elaine
    February 28, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Just beautiful. Does this mean that Spring is just around the corner? Thanks for sharing. ☺️


    • February 28, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Thank-you Elaine. The memory of yellow daffodils and baby blue forget-me-nots still lingers. Soon.


  3. Beth
    February 28, 2015 at 3:14 am

    So beautiful!! I love your words and pictures!! I too have a memory garden, I can’t wait for it to bloom this spring. When I walk in my garden, I feel a part of you is with me. Thank you for all your flowers you have shared with me. You are such a special friend. xoxox


    • February 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Than-you Beth. Looking forward to being with you in your garden, observing the beauty and seeing the rewards of our hard work.


  4. February 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Ellen, one of the great joys of my garden is caring for the plants from the people who care for me or who otherwise made an impact in my garden. I have planted nicotiana in pots for several years and the sweet fragrance they release is the evening is unforgettable.


    • February 28, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Mimi, Aren’t we lucky to have constant reminders of people we love? I’ve never grown nicotiana in pots; sitting near the fragrance on a warm summer day must be lovely. πŸ™‚


  5. janette andrews
    February 28, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Dear Ellen, Nasturtium was Mother’s favorite flower also. Your lastest post is beautiful and so informative. You are following your passion and it shows. Kudos and congratulations for sharing your photos and soul. xoxo janette Janette


    • February 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      I didn’t know Nasturtium was Janice’s favorite. Now when I look at the lovely blooms I will think of her. πŸ™‚


  6. Eilleen Cunningham
    February 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    A memory garden is such a beautiful idea. Love, Eileen


  7. Amy
    March 1, 2015 at 1:11 am

    I love this post, Ellen, and so enjoyed reading about each flower and looking through all your lovely photos. I grow many flowers in my memory garden – grape hyacinth, roses, forget-me-nots, a tatting fern, dicentra, lily of the valley, and some perennial geraniums. Thank you for sharing all your lovelies with us! xo


    • March 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Thank-you Amy. It is lovely knowing memory gardens are enjoyed by so many.
      I love all your flowers: roses, forget-me-nots, fern, dicentra, lily of the valley, geraniums… what a beautiful collection!


  8. Kim
    March 3, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I love that limey-green color. It really makes purples and oranges pop. We have a memory garden, too – it’s where the dead plants are dumped! Only half kidding – we had a miserable planting season last summer but looking forward to a better one this year. πŸ™‚


    • March 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Kim, That’s funny. I too had plants that didm’t do well. Every year it’s different; looking forward. πŸ™‚
      Miss you, xxoo


  9. March 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Ohh. Love those pepperbox poppies! They’ve got verve!


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