When my mother was growing up in rural south Alabama, her paternal grandmother lived with Mom’s family.
Sidebar: This was after Granddaddy Ellis Findley (see April 8th blog) had died. Otherma’s real name was F.C.— only initials. I suppose they had so many kids back then that they just started naming them initials. That wasn’t good enough for Otherma, so when she grew up, she filled in the initials and called herself “Frances Carol.” (Later, Gramma honored her by naming Mom “Frances,” and a cousin got the name “Carol.” We’re really big on family names in the rural south.)
Because Otherma lived with them and was so close to her grandgirls, Mom and her sisters started calling her “Otherma,” as in “other mama.” Mom told me that Otherma once said that living with her son, daughter-in-law, and three granddaughters were the happiest years of her life.
While living with Mom’s family, Otherma planted a shrub on the family’s farm in Gihon Springs. Mom and her sisters call it “Otherma’s bush.”
It truly is an heirloom bush in that Mom and Aunt Joyce have always had the plant growing in their yards. I brought a rooting from Gihon Springs and planted it in north Alabama when I moved up here. I planted it all around my yard. It pretty much grows anywhere that you stick a sprig into the ground!
It has the most beautiful pink blossoms that pop out during early spring, every year. The blossoms look like Barbie-doll-sized pink pom-poms. The shrub blooms for about two or three weeks and then sheds, leaving beautiful leaves until fall.
It makes the most wonderful floral confetti when the bush gets ready to lose its blossoms. Princess Buttercup, my young dau, has a great time tossing the blossoms into the air and watching the petals fall all around like rice at a wedding (do they even do rice at weddings anymore?). She also made some “homemade perfume” with the tiny petals. I think she used water, Otherma’s bush petals, and…something else like soft soap, to make it smell good. I kept it for her until it turned icky and then poured it down the sink drain.
After doing an Internet search on the plant, I found out that the bush is actually called a “Dwarf Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa Rosea Plena).” It’s extremely drought tolerant, can withstand heavy pruning, and grows about 3-4’ wide/tall.
Call it what you will, but it will always be “Otherma’s bush” to us. If you live close to the Huntsville area, I will be glad to give you a sprig for your yard. Just let me know!