The Ancestral Shrubbery

Ever since I moved out of home 15 years ago, my mum has been at me to plant a gardenia – something to do with my grandmother’s wedding bouquet, or some such thing that was of zero interest to my 20 year-old self. I’ve always brushed it aside, but it’s recently come to my attention that gardenias smell outrageously nice, so I’m thinking of getting one. That should make mum happy, although I’ll have her know I’m doing it of my own free will. 

I’ll admit that I’m a late bloomer when it comes to appreciating the beauty of flowers, especially fragrant ones. I’ve always thought I hated perfumes, but I’m coming to understand that what I actually hate is synthetic perfumes. Turns out that floral essential oils can actually be to die for, and it was through that avenue that I discovered what all the fuss is about with gardenias. I’m pretty sure the one that mum is always on about is called Gardenia florida

Shrubberies have always seemed so pointless to me, and yet here I am about to start one, and purely for aesthetic reasons at that. Mum’s going to flip her lid with happiness when she hears this. Next thing I’ll be going with her to the nursery to buy bird of paradise plants, and before long I’ll be collecting rare orchids and building ornamental ponds. One of these days, soon enough, I’ll wake up and found I’ve actually turned into my mother. 

Woah… I’m having a realisation here. This is what must have happened to my mother in order to make her so obsessed with her mother’s wedding bouquet or whatever. I’m picturing my maternal line stretching back as far as the eye can see, each individual in it having at some point cottoned on to the fact that she is, in some sense, her mother. 

It’s inescapable. I’m destined to create an ornamental shrubbery, and all my grandmother and their grandmothers before them are hovering over me, waiting to exclaim over it.