This orchid cactus was given to me as a modest cutting from the luxurious plant owned by our neighbour, Mrs. M. When we first moved here some 20 years ago she gave me a tour of their house, the first of only 3 visits I would ever pay to her home. In an upstairs room dedicated to plants, I stood in awe of the beautiful flowering cactus plant, the likes of which I had never before seen.
I am not a gardener, but Mrs. M. was quite devoted to hers and I'd often see her outdoors in the early spring, down on her hands and knees, tenderly digging in the earth around her plants. She was already at a rather advanced age, but very hardy and forthright.
In the early summer, Mrs. M. would put her big cactus orchid out on her front porch and I would gaze at it in envy as I passed by each day on my way to and from the village post office. Our own plant would, over the years, flower sporadically: some years with great exuberance, while others with a lackadaisical air, and some years, not at all.
But Mrs. M.'s was always glorious, as were the flowers in her garden.
A few years ago, I realized that I hadn't seen the cactus orchid out on Mrs. M.'s porch for some time. And then it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Mrs. M. herself out in her garden for probably a summer or two.
You know how it is, one goes along in one's own little bubble, absorbed in the daily cares and concerns without really paying attention to the external world. A sort of soft focus of the outer sphere of existence while fixated on the inner.
And then one year, in conversation with another neighbour, I learned that Mrs.M. had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and had been moved to a nursing home.
Her flower garden sits neglected now, and no plants appear on her front porch, although a riotous burst of brilliant blue flowers erupt each spring along the borders of her yard.
I have no way of knowing whether or not Mrs. M. has any memory of her garden or her love of gardening. For her it is, perhaps, a forgotten garden.
But I will remember Mrs. M. each spring that my orchid cactus blooms.
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This post is partly inspired by Bonnie of Pixel Dust Photo Art who suggested a theme this week of altering a photograph to illustrate (no matter how abstractly) the title of a favourite book. Recently I've been reading a novel by Kate Morton called "The Forgotten Garden."
The last photo in the series above was altered with one of Bonnie's textures, "A Splash of Gold."