Fall is upon us. The weather is turning cooler and the invasion of Asian Beetles has begun. It is beautiful in the valley during the fall season. This last weekend and week, when the weather has permitted, I have been busy in the Little Plum Lutheran Cemetery, replanting flowers. The church board had decided as their final legacy project to update the cemetery, realigning, repairing and straightening headstones. The Johnson Monument company has been working on and off again, sometimes even in the rain. It seems that fall has become the rainy season in these parts. One of the casualities in cemetery care is in-ground plantings. Planted long ago with the intention of beautifing and honoring those that have passed, flowers, bushes and trees over time, do terrible things to headstones. I had asked the church board and the occasional visiting relatives that I have met over the summer if they would be agreeable to repurpose those plants in the perimeter of the cemetery. Everyone agreed. I thought this was a great idea…..until I started dividing and planting, and planting, and planting.
Some of these plants have not been tended to in decades and as we all know, lilies can be invasive. After clearing and resetting a couple of stones at the south of the cemetery, the Johnson Monument guys had neatly piled the lilies. It was a pile big enough to fill the back of a pick up. There are still two stones to clear.
To date this is what has been transplanted. On the easement, defining the property lines is 50 daylilies. These are the shorter variety that in a couple of years will bush out nicely and display their cheerful yellow blooms. I transplanted these in the spring and this September a couple of the plants gave a second bloom. 6 Sedum plants. Alas, the two fawns that have taken up residency in the back yard, love to munch the tops of these plants just before blooming….maybe next season. 25 Rosemary plants, that I purchased to help deter the deer, rabbits and other eaters. Most are doing quite well and I am harvesting and using fresh rosemary. 60 lilies. Most of these are orange. 40 iris plants. During the first planting, some critter had come along behind me and pulled out a third of the plants. This time I covered the plants with coca mulch. The pundgent scent has kept the critters away. 20 peonies. I love peonies. They bring back fond memories of afternoons chasing cousins at the Brunner farm.
Basic math tells me that is over 200 plants, my knees tell me it’s enough, but my heart says to keep going. The north, south and west edges of the cemetery have been cleared and planted. I have the east side, nearest to the wooded area left to plant. I have plenty of lillies and they guys from the monument company will be back next week, come rain or shine, to clear and reset the last stones and finish their work. There will be more than enough lilies and a few more peonies for transplanting.
The other casuality from this work has been the memorial flowers left this summer. The monument company had carefully stacked these by the cedar tree so they could continue their work. Rather than throw them away, I took some time on Sunday to salvage the flowers from the memorials and create a wreath. It hangs on the cedar tree and will remain there until spring, or whenever Old Man Winter decides it is time to come down.
People may think I am crazy for spending time planting and caring for flowers in a cemetery where I have no loved ones. It is a peaceful time and a time for remembering my family and friends who have passed. I wonder about the lives of those at rest in the cemetery. I have noticed that when Rick and I are out in the back yard and in the cemetery we usually start humming and then singing some of our favorite old hymns.
The next time you are in the Little Plum area, stop by. Stretch your legs in the cemetery and see the great work that has been done and maybe take a lily from the pile home with you.