A gardener passes

Shirley Wright probably knew as much about gardening as she did about farming when she got married in 1957. No matter, she listened, watched and learned and when she died on May 20 she was leaving a life that, despite an unpromising start, turned out to a good one. She was widowed for almost 19 years and was much loved her three children and two grandchildren.

At her funeral she was remembered as someone who had a skill for whatever she turned her hand to – her baking was fondly remembered by many of those present – and although increasing mobility problems kept her out of her large garden, she still took a keen interest in what was being planted and had, almost by way of compensation perhaps, became a keen stitcher of tapestries, almost all of them of flowers.

Stitched by Shirley Simpson, an atypical colour palette for her. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Her casket flowers were as perfect as they could be – gentle pinks and wine colours with an accent of blue. A few years ago she offered me one of her many tapestries, any one I liked. Except, as it turned out, not the one I picked, a large tapestry worked in pinks and blues. That was her favourite, so I had to choose again and picked the one above (and will try to get a photo without so much reflection).

Shirley learned her gardening on the job, as it were, and just as she was getting going was suddenly called on to manage a much bigger and well-established garden. Although she never “taught” me gardening as such (perhaps because I never asked) she offered advice and we had great fun discussing plants and gardens. She was a wonderful garlic grower – our seed stock comes from her and will shortly go in the ground again.

In her day she was also a skilled rose pruner, regularly called on to give demonstrations, and I am truly sorry I no longer have her at the end of a phone for reassurance about that and a myriad of other things.

Mum was just a few weeks shy of her 81st birthday when she died. Last year I promised her a blossom tree a year until the road frontage was planted, possibly 20 trees. Now I think we’ll do them all at once.

All dressed up, likely to be in the early to mid-1960s. Photo: Barrie Simpson



3 thoughts on “A gardener passes

  1. A loving tribute to your mother. What a massive gap this will leave in your life and you have my sincere sympathy.

  2. Thank you Ellen and Joanne. The sympathy and friendship we have received as a family (my brother, sister and I) and individually has been a big help in our sudden loss. Someone said to me yesterday that sometimes we don’t “get over” the death of a loved one, we just learn to cope. At present that sounds about right.

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