Family Heirloom: Golden Currant, Weeping Fig, ‘Cherokee’ Purple Tomato, and More

Readers share stories of treasured family plants

  • golden currant (Ribes aureum)
    The yellow flowers of golden currant (Ribes aureum) produce a pleasantly spicy aroma.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Svetlana Ileva
  • Hilary Harder
    It’s funny, when you’ve had a tree for this long, it becomes more of a family member than a mere plant.
    Photo by Hilary Harder
  • ‘Cherokee Purple' tomatoes
    ‘Cherokee Purple’ has become my favorite tomato. The fruits aren’t the perfect, cylindrical, red tomatoes many people prefer, but their flavor is second to none.
    Photo by Robert Copeland

  • golden currant (Ribes aureum)
  • Hilary Harder
  • ‘Cherokee Purple' tomatoes

The Scent of Golden Currant

My grandmother grew a bush with small yellow flowers, which, come spring, would bloom and fill the air with a fragrance like fresh cinnamon. You could smell it just walking by, like fresh spice wafting in the breeze. The bush would flower profusely, but ultimately produced very little fruit.

When I decided to leave home and move into my first house, I took a cutting of my grandmother’s flowering golden currant with me. I’ve since lived in several different houses, and I’ve taken a cutting of that bush with me to every new home. In spring, when I smell the hint of cinnamon in the air as I walk by the bush, or as I garden nearby, it brings out the feelings of a happy childhood and memories of my grandmother.

Lorraine Chambers

Chatham, Ontario

New Life With New Plants

My foster mom had a company, Anything Grows, which specialized in tropical plantscapes. The time I spent with her began a lifelong love of plants for me. I used the skills I learned from her to begin working in nurseries, eventually gardening and landscaping myself.

At 19 years old I moved into my first apartment, and was in need of a few tropical plants. Naturally, I asked Bonnie (my foster mom) if she had any to spare. She showed up with multiple trees, including fragrant dracaena (Dracaena fragrans) and a lovely braided weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) that was otherwise destined for the burn pile.

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