Jun 12, 2012

My mother was rarely without her Filofax.  It acted as her PDA—she used it much the way I use my iPhone.  Except she also used it as her wallet and general catch-all, so like my iPhone case, her Filofax was always overstuffed and unable to be neatly snapped shut! When cleaning out her office, I found six different editions. One was green, one red, and the other purple; there’s also a black one, and her last one was blue.  I took a quick glance through them at first but found it overwhelming, until this past weekend when I decided to read through three of them.  It seems she sorted through each year’s pages and kept those of significance and sorted them by topics. Four are garden related and the other two are personal.  One chronicled the decline and death of her husband (my stepfather) that took place in the wake of 9/11, and bits of that devastation are woven throughout.  She also was very blunt about just how inconsolably sad she was after his death.  It was very moving. I read and cried, and when I finished I looked at the clock and it was 2:00 a.m.!

 Viola labradorica

In one of the garden journals she had gathered all her thoughts on color in the garden—what turned out to be the best combination of plants in pots and in borders. It was fascinating to read and understand the real depth and committed passion with which she approached every garden she created.  This journal had entries as far back as 1991, so it covered two out of three of her gardens.


What I have chosen to share first is her musings on “good purple flowers” and “good purple foliage.”

 Geranium Brookside

Wanting to know what each of the list looked like, I Googled them, and here are the results.  I recognize many of them by sight but I never knew the names.

Stachys macrostachya 

This can be found  in the garden I inherited.

 Heuchera Amethyst Veil

As can this.

 Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

And, I smiled when I saw this Clematis.  I remember Mum fighting the elements to grow this one at the house we lived in when I was about 13.  The wind would  constantly knock it down. So she taught me how to staple it (gently) to the house to help it grow up.  I think after that ordeal, she used them strictly in pots.

I will be sharing more of her favorite plant choices by color and her favorite combinations for pots and borders.  I am learning a lot!

In honor of Mum’s love of purple, today I’m giving away a Dash & Albert Quartz Stripe 2′ x 3′ woven cotton rug (valued at $30)! All you have to do to win is comment on this post below. The giveaway starts on Tuesday, June 12, and runs until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 14. (View the full rules here.)


Congratulations to our winner, Stella Y. from California!



Images courtesy of Bassin nature http://blog.bassin-nature.com/2010/05/31/etoile-de-malicorne/, Castle Gardener http://gardener.blogg.se/2007/july/dagens-vaxt-navan-brookside.html, Green Gate Farms http://www.greengatefarms.com/index.cfm?CFID=fe2ad25e-a513-4598-9ba5-a703f3280aca&CFTOKEN=0&jsessionid=442843B0344C440503F0DCD92CCCA628.railo-04&fuseaction=plants.main, Church Creek Nursery http://www.churchcreeknursery.com/index.php?mact=Products,cntnt01,default,1, east bay wilds http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastbaywilds/sets/72157622251097851/detail/, Healthy Home Gardening http://healthyhomegardening.com/Plant.php?pid=1128


  1. ruth music

    <3 …Love Quartz stripe rugs!

  2. Carly Frels

    I am not much of a gardener, but I love all the purple flowers! It’s funny, I am caught somewhere between the iPhone and the “Filofax” – I would be completely lost- I mean really lost without my phone, mainly the gps— but I guess I’d be just as out of place if I lost my lovely day-planner that stores many important thing as well. I’m not sure if Ill ever make that full “techno” switch- just love how many little papers and important notes I can jam in there and still “feel organized” :)

  3. Susan Gosman

    How very kind of you to share your Mum with us. And how lovely the photos are. Thank you.

  4. L Weber

    These are lovely – I do wish I had more of a green thumb! I am also an avid Filofax user – still, in this digital age – and like to organize myself on paper. Looking forward to more colorful updates.

  5. What a great post Annie! I too am a “purple girl” and your mom’s writings have inspired me to go outside and photograph all my purples growing! My rule in the garden, “never too much purple”. Your post reminded me of a potted hydrangea given to my mom as a gift that I found tossed aside while cleaning out her things. It’s been growing in my yard for over 25 years now and still reminds me of her.

  6. Gretel

    I love that your mom kept diaries about happy things, like her flowers with sorting by colour, and about the sad parts of life. What a wonderful gift for you.

  7. Stella Y.

    I love the different textural qualities and color variations in the images you chose. It’s like I see different personalities popping out in each and every one of them. I think it’s amazing how much details flowers and plants have to offer when you just take the time to closely observe them. The little details in nature can be very inspirational.

  8. I’m always inspired by deep violets and purples…we have a great library of violet fabrics and they are a constant go to. Thank you for sharing this intimate story. Best! – Melissa, HTD

  9. Kim

    How interesting it must be to find the favorite combinations of a master gardener and to gain insight into the private thoughts of your mum.

  10. Julie

    Thank you so much for sharing the story of your Mom’s notebooks. It is amazing to me when a person shares intimately the beauty that dwells in their heart and world. You are blessed to have a piece of her heart. I hope you treasure it and make it a part of your heart and world. I appreciate you sharing it for my eyes to see. I enjoyed the photos and added them to my list of plants I want to add to my garden. So, in a way, when I get these plants a piece of your Mom’s heart will live in my garden too. Continue to share. Blessings to you and yours!

  11. Sandra

    Very touching post. I know I would have enjoyed spending time with your Mom. I too love to garden and am so inspired by the detailed notes she kept. How many times I’ve tried to remember the plant combinations that worked for me in past years. Now I feel motivated to start my gardening journal. I’m very glad I found your blog.

  12. My oldest son and I are currently reviving the garden at my family home in LA (Lower Alabama). We are caring for a garden that I can trace through my baby pictures, baby pictures of my mother, drawings by my great-grandmother and design notes by great-great-grandfather! I am not a gardener at heart, but I am an historian of sorts and I love caring for my family history this way.

  13. Eileen

    Fondly remembering my Nana who pressed pansies into her books, where I could ( surprisingly ) find them intact, …holding their beautiful purple color after all these years…and they have been many..!
    Funny how something so simple can bring back the memory…and love of a person that meant so much. Thankyou for bringing back the memories.

  14. Sandy

    I am loving all of my pots this year. I must photograph and record the flowers I love most so that I can use them again. I do have one all purple pot which is one of my favorites.

  15. Vickie H.

    A very touching post in its beautiful simplicity. I am honored that you shared a bit of your mother’s private writings with us. And such a nice giveaway to top it off! I love all the purple, just as your mother did! What gardens she must have grown!

  16. My mom loved purple too but was a terrible gardener. I her memory I planted a purple bed of perennials (iris,delphiniums,phlox,lupin,) that I am neglecting. She would be so amused!

  17. My mom loved purple too but was a terrible gardener. I her memory I planted a purple bed of perennials (iris,delphiniums,phlox,lupin,) that I am neglecting. She would be so touched!

  18. Joanne Quattrochi

    How lovely Annie, the gifts of your mother continue after her passing. These precious notes of her greatest passions can fill you with enormous pleasure. The gift is in the giving..Thank you.

  19. Tilena Dunlap

    Thank – You for sharing. Purple has always been a favorite in our house. We recently tore down 4 sheds and had to burn off the area and are planning on putting a garden with a weeping cherry tree as one of the” main attractions” and make the other tree a sort of faux gnome home. The foilage you posted Im looking into and praying it goes with zone 5. Thanks bunches for sharing your mom’s treasure

  20. Jen motel

    Thanks for sharing love the photos

  21. Julia S.

    Love, love, love!!!

  22. heather

    great colors!

  23. Erika

    Purple and gardening: two of my favorite things.

  24. Julia

    I felt I was reading the beginning of a novel. I really have a love for trying to garden. Every where I have lived I have planted! One place in paticular I had a lot of time,love and money in this yard. My colors were beautiful! Dark purple to light purple. I really miss it! I would take pictures of it and I was stress free doing this! Where I am now I live with my mom and it is her place. She has a special place I gave her on mothers day for clamatis wich is deep purple,it climbs on a white wooden lattice. I have used white plastic garbage ties to connect the delicate limbs on to it. Your story with your mom with staples made me relate. I also planted these pretty reddish purple,and orange star like flowers around them. I love the colors in your rug and your story. Looking at your rug will always bring me back to it!

  25. Deborah Meader

    What a lovely post! This really touched me and has inspired me to use my planners and journals as a way to better chronicle all parts of my life…maybe one day my daughter or son will find them and will connect with me on a different level. Thank you, thank you!

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