When Bob and I bought the house in Georgia, there wasn’t much in the way of plantings or landscaping, so over the last eight years we have amended, planted, moved, cut, nursed, and mulched countless living things, and the hilltop is finally coming into its own. Many of the plants in our yard were given to us by family or by friends, and it delights me to walk amongst loved ones—as I see it—in the cool of the early morning or pale light of the evening, walks I was pleased to take this past week.

Crinum lilies from my mother are now a riot of deep pink trumpet umbels lining the walk from the driveway to the back door. Their cousins, swamp lilies, a gift from a dear friend, are blooming at the corner of the porch with the sweetest, faintly lemon fragrance, and the newest lily addition to the yard (and a mystery until this weekend) opened its first bloom to reveal itself as a spider lily just yesterday. The lilies our neighbor John gave us two years ago, plants from his childhood yard in San Antonio, are now established and hopefully will bloom next year for the first time. We have transplanted countless iris rhizomes from Mississippi, some of which had come from my grandmother, and likely her mother before her, and literally hundreds of Lycoris and daffodil bulbs, from the same friend who gave us the lilies, now line the driveway up from the dirt road. The banana-esque Magnolia fuscata on the north side of the house reminds me of my grandfather in spring, its waxy blooms always in tandem with the intoxicating fragrance of the sweet olives at each corner of the house and lining the knot garden on the south side.

When I wander my garden, I am surrounded by tangible and sensory reminders of the people I have loved and still love, though many now number within the great cloud of witnesses. And I treasure the opportunity to remember that we, you and I, walk paths paved for us by generations before and are surrounded by those who already have run the race and continue to love us still. It was wonderful to walk our garden this past week and to be surrounded by love, and I pray you, too, may recall those who love us still but are beyond our reach and yet beside us at every turn.