It’s amazing to me how a smell can be so powerful it can bring back a memory that is decades old! It’s a scientific fact that the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is closely associated with memory. However, the scientific explanation doesn’t quite do the experience justice. Today, when I removed the dome from one of my seedling flats to water the seeds, the humid, earthy scent gripped my nose and brought me to my grandfather’s greenhouse when I was five years old.
My grandfather was a florist and had several large greenhouses and a florist shop next to his house. Until I was eight years old, we lived upstairs in my grandfather’s house. I have many memories of watching my grandfather in his shop, selling bouquets of flowers and creating beautiful flower arrangements for weddings and funerals. I especially enjoyed watching him personalize wide ribbons for arrangements by writing in glue then sprinkling with glitter. That was awe-inspiring to me at the time.
Although I was never allowed in the greenhouses alone, my grandfather or my dad (who helped my grandfather when he was off work) often took me inside while they tended the plants. Each greenhouse had several “benches” overflowing with a myriad of flowers, and I remember having to be careful not to trip on the watering hoses as I admired them. But the most vivid memory – the one that returned today – is what I experienced when I first entered that house of glass. Within seconds of the door closing, the sultry air greeted me with a bouquet of intense earthen fragrance, a scent that I have loved since.
Maybe it is the memory of that earthen bouquet which draws me to the garden. The fragrance of the soil while my hands are scooping out a new home for my transplants, the earthiness of the compost as I turn it, and the bouquet of the miniature “greenhouses” under my grow lights all tie me to a memory rooted in family and grown in love. Although my grandfather has been gone many years now, his memory is always with me. Yet, I feel closest to him when I’m in my garden, tending my plants and nurturing a sense of awe over what I have grown. Because of him, I believe my garden has transcended earth and seed and become a generational gift of love. Thank you, Grandpa.
~ In loving memory of my grandfather ~