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Langford senior plants roadside poppy to honour late husband

LANGFORD, B.C. -

To appreciate why a bright, orange poppy is blooming at the end of a bare boulevard beside a busy road, we need to meet the woman who lives across the sidewalk from the plant.

Rosemary is preparing to mark three milestones during one emotional week.

“I will be moving for the first time in 42 years,” the 75-year-old says.

When Rosemary and her husband Peter first moved into the house, it was surrounded by nothing but grass. Four decades later, it’s enveloped by an abundance of plants.

“A lot of this is to show off to my friends in Ontario,” Rosemary laughs. “Look what I can do!”

Along with perennial flowers that bloom before anywhere else in the country, Rosemary’s vast garden features half a dozen fruit trees, from olive and apple, to fig and Japanese kiwi.

“They are very tasty,” Rosemary smiles, gently touching the grape vine. “Very good.”

While the grapes aren’t growing yet, Rosemary shows me a picture showing a bounty of them.

Most of her photo albums are packed in boxes for the move, except for one that features Peter.

“He was the Casanova of the village,” Rosemary laughs. They met at a dance on their local ski hill, and just clicked. “He kinda swept me off my feet!”

A few months later, Rosemary answered Peter’s proposal with a yes. This week marks 52 years since they both vowed “I do.”

“His love is the sports,” Rosemary says. “Gardening’s my passion.”

Despite those differences, Rosemary credits their marriage’s longevity with sharing common values and loving their four children, who grew up as the garden did.

“It will be really hard leaving,” Rosemary says. “But I can take the memories with me.”

But Peter will not be moving with her. This week also marks three years since he died.

“He had a really gentle spirit,” Rosemary says, before walking across the sidewalk to water the poppy along the boulevard. “I really wanted to honour him in some way.

Because Peter’s funeral was paused by the pandemic, Rosemary decided to plant the poppy.

When I ask why she chose to remember her husband with a flower, Rosemary answers with a laugh, “Why not a flower?!”

Why not a reminder of life’s inevitable endings and beginnings?

“Things grow well in the garden. Things die in the garden. Sometimes the fruit is there. Sometimes the fruit doesn’t come,” Rosemary says. “And life is like that too.”

But if we have the faith to keep tending to the garden of life through the fallow periods, Rosemary says they will eventually be followed by abundant ones.

“Don’t fret. This too shall pass,” Rosemary smiles. “Gardening has always given me peace in my spirit,”

And while the land on which Rosemary cultivated so many happy memories will be redeveloped after she moves to her new home, the perennial symbol of hope she planted along the boulevard will continue to bloom.

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