Stargazers. (And a couple things my mom taught me.)

Last week I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for blooms to appear. The snow has finally melted (!) but the trees in Saskatoon are dry and brown. I’ve been craving green, growth, and colour…


So I gave my cousin Heather my debit card on her run to the grocery store, and asked her to pick up some fresh flowers I could bring home. She chose these stargazer lilies. (They were starting to yellow a little by the time I took this pic, but aren’t they gorgeous? And their scent is seriously amazing.)

I always think of my mom when I’m arranging flowers in a vase, because she taught me two things:

1. Cut the stems on an angle (this helps them take in more water)

2. Make the height of the flowers about double the height of the vase (for good vase-to-bouquet proportions)

I’ve never known anyone who gets as excited about flowers as my mom. She can talk about the colour, the shape, and the scent of a blossom endlessly. She paints watercolour flowers on cards and gives them to people, gives them to me, writes messages of love inside, in handwriting that has grown small, the letters squeezed together in long lopsided lines.

She has a tremor in her hands now, which affects her handwriting, but doesn’t stop her from painting, from pouring hot water from the pot to make her cup of chai tea, from turning the orchid on her coffee table so it faces the sun.

Her hands shake but they are still her hands, the same ones that carried pieces of driftwood off the beach when I was a girl and placed them in our small yard to hold baskets of pansies, of blue hydrangeas. Her garden is on the windowsill now, a row of cactuses catching the light where she keeps the blinds open until the last possible moment of the day, not wanting her plants to miss a single beam.

What about you–is there anything you do that always reminds you of your mom? Of something she taught you? I’d love to hear about it.

p.s.–Did you know that the stargazer lily is a hybrid flower, created in 1978? Apparently a California plant breeder named Leslie Woodruff is the genius who developed it– a cross between an  Asiatic lily and an Oriental lily. Because the flower buds opened towards the sky, Woodruff named the hybrid “Stargazer.” Isn’t that cool? I love finding out how things got their names.

Also–a coffee-table book for flower lovers.


  1. It’s little memories like that, that mean so much to us as adults. We never knew them at the time, but they effected us more than we could ever imagine. I too love stargazer lilies and they were my Mom’s favorites. When ever I get a whiff of them I feel a flood of memories coming back to me. I find myself everyday doing things (without purpose) just like my Mom. In keeping with the flower theme, just this past week or so, my son Liam and I will pick any sort of wildflower that comes up in our yard and put them in a little shot glass or random jar that we have around the house. They are little purple flowers, nothing fancy, I don’t even know what they are called. I used to do the same with my Mom. We used to pick these orange flowers that were everywhere on the Peninsula during Spring. Every flower was so beautiful and looked so good in a simple clear glass with water. It is just makes sense to me now as that was how my Mom was with things, she didn’t need anything fancy, things were beautiful just the way they were. I guess you can say she taught me to appreciate the smaller, simpler things in life. Which I now know are the best. Anyway, just thought I’d share with you………

    • That’s a really beautiful memory, Sally. Thanks so much for sharing it. I love the image of you and your little boy picking flowers just like you did with your mom. Those small, simple things really do become a part of us. And carry on in us. xoxo

  2. My dearest Courtney, thank you so much for mentioning me so lovingly in your blog, and I too love the stargazer lily, as the fragrance is so heavenly! You will remember more and more thing’s that I have taught you as you age, at least that is the way it is with my Mother. All my love Mother, really enjoyed your blog! xoxox

  3. Courtenay,

    Your writing is such a pleasure to read. The topics you write about are diverse and intriguing. You have a unique way of capturing the beauty in the small things which are so important and sometimes overlooked.

    I have known you for 7 years now and every time I read a piece of your writing it gives me glimpses of you that keeps me so connected. I love your openness. Thank you for sharing! Keep on writing, it is definately your gift my Dear Friend.


    – S

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