The Story of Sweet William

*heavily edited from an email I sent recently*

I probably have not told you that my Grandmother had a son named William. He was quite a looker (honest he was, I’ll show you his picture sometime). He was 20 years old when he was killed in service. I’m not sure where. Grandmother was born in 1911, and he was her oldest son. Mama was the baby, born in 1947, so… she said she was a baby when he died, so maybe WWII, but Granddad was also in that war, so, I’m just not sure? Could have been Korea, I suppose. Anyway, anytime that name was mentioned, I didn’t press, because I didn’t want to remind Grandmother or make her dwell on him unnecessarily. Now, that’s the background, and we can move on to the story part of the story.

Grandmother had a bush by her clothesline back in the day, and that bush smelled so good. It smelled like angel’s perfume. I cannot describe it to you beyond that. I’ve never again smelled anything to compare it to. It wasn’t much to look at, kinda scraggly with small red buds that never really opened, but the scent….I can still smell it in my mind. The bush was called a “sweet shrub“. I want one of those one day. Anyway, Grandmother also had 48 bazillion kinds of flowers, sometimes the same from year to year and sometimes different. But one time I asked her what some flower was and she told me it was a “Sweet William”. I was still little and somehow that got jumbled up in my mind, and I thought the bush was the Sweet William, and I thought that for many years until I talked to Mama several years ago about getting a cutting off that “Sweet William bush at Grandmother’s house” and she looked at me as if I had three heads. That was when I finally got it straight in my mind the name of the bush. And then I didn’t wonder about the Sweet William anymore, because I didn’t have many flowers at the time. I never did get a cutting off that bush.

You may recall that I started working in the garden shop in addition to the pharmacy recently and so as I was tidying up one day and looking over the wares, I happened to see seeds for Sweet William. I almost bought some that first time I saw them, and talked myself out of it. I talked myself out of it several more times. Sweet William, if you don’t know, and you probably do, is a biennial. The first year, you get only foliage and the next year, you get blooms of various colors. So, this past week, I finally bought some seeds. Then I found dwarf ones that will bloom this year as well as next and I planted those dwarf seeds in one of those starter greenhouses. After they are ready to go out, I will buy some more peat pellets and plant the tall ones.

So, when you see that flower in the yard, it is for now, but it also for future then and for back then, too. And that is the story of Sweet William.

P.S. Those little greenhouse things are the bombdiggety. Like a little Sahara hotel for your plants that need pampering.

2 thoughts on “The Story of Sweet William

  1. My brother was killed in El Paso, Texas March 4, 1952. He was an MP in the Air Force. Yes, indeed he was a looker! The men in the family got all of the good looks.

    Hope you don’t mind me adding to your post or it may be taking away from it. If you mind, just edit.

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