Edith Lawson… my gardening mother

Jenny Rowswell

It was midyear of 2011 where, through Hottentots Holland Garden Club, I met Edith.

I wrote in their garden book I was looking for snowdrop plants. Edith approached me and suggested I come to the Helderberg Hospice Garden Nursery on the following Tuesday.

That is when I realised Helderberg Hospice had a garden volunteers’ group. Having just retired it was ideal.

So, I joined and have never looked back… thanks Edith!

Edith and Jean Hyland were the ladies in charge at the time. Being a total beginner who really only knew about weeds, Edith took me under her wing and guided me.

Hence, she become my gardening mother.

In 2015, Jean and Edith felt they needed to pass on the baton, and approached me to take over leadership. Still a novice at plants, I opted to co-lead with Pam Moolman, who has a vast knowledge of plants.

However, we asked Edith to take on the reigns of treasurer, which she

did an exceptional job of right up to the end.

Edith was a sensible, down to earth person who had a great passion for plants and often told stories about her previous gardens and the beautiful plants she had.

Edith also sold plants from the nursery at the Hottentots Holland Garden Club meetings every month. This aided the volunteers to purchase the necessary things for the garden.

She and Jean used to make slips and sow seeds. What a pleasure to purchase affordable plants and at the same time support an excellent charity – the nursery is still open to the public every Tuesday between 9am and 1pm.

Edith loved her section of the garden in front of the pergola at Helderberg Hospice. A proper English garden. Every Saturday morning she and Jean would go and water the plants there and in the nursery, ending the morning with a game or two of Scrabble.

I vividly remember Edith and I sitting under beach umbrellas planting Buffalo grass slips. We were adamant about having a lush lawn. Sorry Edith, the drought got the better of that project.

Age was often brushed aside in her determination to help wherever needed. She was determined to find a needy place to be of help. In the harsh drought, she would be there sitting at the tap, filling up our buckets and watering cans.

We could not have done without her. A small task, yet so important and so, so helpful.

Edith always listened and gave advice. She was a remarkable lady who gave her all to keep up with modern technology, and was never ashamed to ask for help in that regard.

My last words to Edith before she spread her wings were, “I will miss you, but you will live on in our garden and our hearts. Thank you for all you did for Helderberg Hospice and the people who crossed your path. You are a true inspiration to us all. Thank you and Love you.”

Jenny Rowswell is the current garden team leader at Helderberg Hospice.