Back to the garden

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Mummy Musings is a fortnightly column where Elisabeth Lee navigates the ups and downs of bringing up her daughter.

In my very first Mummy Musings column, I talked about gardening with my daughter, A, then the tender age of three. Now four going on 14, we still garden together, but the dynamic is definitely very different.

For one, she understands so much more. She remembers the year the before. She remembers the flowers she planted, the seeds she sowed. She has learned about watering plants, about tending to a garden, and about what she likes about hers.

Last year, the petunia she potted as part of a daycare-organised craft found its forever home in the middle of A’s own garden patch. With a little watering by her (and a lot of watering by her dad) the petunia thrived, sending out copious, pink blooms for much of our summer.

This year, she is waiting for her prized petunia to return. Even though it’s almost summer, the spot where the petunia once occupied is still bare, except for a few weeds. Now, petunias are perennials in warmer climes, but up here in the cool, damp Pacific Northwest, they aren’t. The sub-zero winters here tend to finish them off, and last winter was especially cold and long.

Many parents would be tempted to sneak another in under the cover of night – a Christmas miracle in spring, if you know what I mean. But we don’t believe in sugar-coating the truth – we have been frank but gentle about all the facts of life so far, and don’t see a reason to start protecting A from the reality of the world around her.

And yet, no matter how many times we explain the difference between annual and perennial plants, about winters and frost and tender green things, little A maintains hope that her precious plant will return. She can’t bear to plant another one to replace it.

And so she waits, in defiance of all she knows about plants and science, life and death. The very embodiment of patience and hope, in one grimy, squirmy little package. This is a child who fails the marshmallow test each and every time, but who is yet waiting, day after day, for the first green shoot.

But that’s my little A – a paradox in pigtails. She knows so little about life, and yet she’s taught me so much. If you’ve been accompanying us on our journey over the past year, you would understand what I mean!

To all of you readers who have been tuning in – and even the ones who have just stumbled upon this column – this is the last one for now! Mummy Musings is taking a little break – watch out for its return in the future!


Elisabeth Lee is proof that it is never too late to consider a second, third or even fourth career, having come to both motherhood and writing late in life. She occasionally freelances and can be reached at

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