Mother’s Day, fill it with colour

Patricia Hanbidge

A very special day falls on the second Sunday of May. This day is a celebration that honours the mother of the family as well as honouring maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society. The history of this day dates back centuries to the spring celebrations in ancient Greece in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

Moving through the centuries, our modern day of honouring motherhood was the result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. During her mother’s life, she frequently expressed a desire for the establishment of a holiday that honoured mothers. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Anna led the movement that led to the commemoration of Mother’s Day.

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There are advantages to having Mother’s Day in May, especially if the lady in question is a gardener. When I was growing up, our favourite gifts were those that not only helped make our garden a more beautiful place, but a happy mom who had a lovely addition that necessitated her puttering in the garden.

In spring, there are endless choices of colourful plants to purchase. If you are looking for annuals as a special gift, then by all means buy them anywhere. For herbaceous or woody perennials, it is better to make a careful choice on where you shop. Living in Saskatchewan, means we are subjecting plants that rest over the winter to extreme conditions. Many of the plants that are for sale are just not hardy here, so spend your dollars wisely. If you shop at big box stores and want your purchase to last for years, it is important to know the source of the plant you are buying. Reading the label is not always helpful as they often don’t give you the information you need. If you are unsure, then spend a few more dollars at a local garden centre as you are likely to have more survival success.

Let’s use roses as an example. Due to advances in breeding and selection we have a lot of shrub roses that come in many colours and sizes that have a long season of bloom, a variety of scents and the ability to survive prairie winters with no extra effort on behalf of the gardener. On the other hand, the tender tea roses are not able to reliably survive our winters even with great effort protecting them from severe winter temperatures. Over the years, as children, we bought many a tea rose for Mother’s Day only to have to replace it the following year. The only upside is we could always buy Mom more roses.

Floral shops are always busy for this special day as who doesn’t love to get flowers. Cut flowers obviously have a short shelf life but so do many of the potted plants that we love to give as gifts. However, as long as you get them in good condition they are lovely to enjoy for even a short period of time.

Another cool option is summer flowering bulbs. These are bulbs that will not survive our winters but can be planted in spring and will flower this summer. Some of my favourites are oriental lilies, acidanthra and of course the canna and calla lilies. If you wish to get more seasons of bloom, then you can lift them in the fall and store them at the appropriate temperature over the winter in a root cellar, cold room or refrigerator.

Hope you have a lovely spring that is full of colour.

Hanbidge is the lead horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at; by phone at 306-931-4769; by email at; on facebook @orchidhort and on instagram at #orchidhort.

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