Mother’s Day Message in a Bottle!

gillnurseryLife in The Garden26 Comments

Years ago, my mother-in-law, Ruth Bayne Gill, aka “Bayne”, bought a parcel of land on Mill Creek, between Vanderpool and Medina, Texas. It’s a beautiful piece of Texas Hill Country, with creek bottom habitat including Bald Cypress and other water loving plants and a nice size hill rising toward the rear of the property covered with juniper, Texas mountain laurel, red oak, and blue oak. The hill is tall enough to  hike up and look out over the valley to the opposing ridges and hills and is itself capped with huge and magnificent boulders painted with colorful yellow, white, and rust orange lichens and green Hill Country ferns. Bayne spent a lot of time visiting her land, dreaming how she would put a small Texas “Dog Run” cabin on it.  In the meantime, she thinned the cedar just a little and explored her acreage from bottom to top. 

(Clockwise from top left) The Hill, Mill Creek, Boulders at The Top of The Hill, Lichen and Fern on a Rock

Bayne’s love for nature was infectious. In the summer of 2000, our oldest son, Stuart, took a job with the Texas Nature Conservancy in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, clearing fire breaks. Towards the end of the summer, James and I, along with our younger son Trevor, and Bayne, drove out to the Davis Mountains for a visit. On our visit, we hiked and hiked and hiked. As usual, Bayne marveled at the plants, the bugs, the sky… anything and everything Mother Nature. She could name all the birds, insects, and other animals, the plants, and understood the complexity of their interactions. We often paused so she could collect a few seeds of notable plants. 

Bayne and James

Bayne passed away in the spring of 2013, surrounded by her family, in her country cottage in the woods outside of Goliad, Texas.  

Fast forward to March of 2019.  James and I drove up to Mill Creek to camp for the night. Visiting the Mill Creek land she passed to her children always makes us feel closer to Bayne. We can almost hear her voice ringing with joy while telling us some delightful natural history tidbit or Native lore.

Early the next morning, James got up to hike across the creek and up the hill. I stayed back, enjoying the quiet morning air. Later in the morning, I started hiking around the property, checking on some bigtooth maple trees (of Lost Maples fame) that James’ older brother William had planted some years back. As I was walking, I spied a small glass jar with a rusted lid on the ground near a clump of old cedar trees. I picked it up; there was paper inside. I’ve always dreamed of finding a message in a bottle. Doesn’t everybody? I knew immediately it was Bayne’s handwriting. And some seed. I very carefully opened the bottle. The paper was yellowed and cracking, but I was able to read, “Alligator Juniper – Aug 2000.” She had collected that seed with us on our Davis Mountains family trip almost 20 years ago! 

Message in a Bottle

I felt like I had won the lottery a thousand times over. Actually, I already had. Bayne was the best mother-in-law I could dream of;  I loved her dearly. I knew at that moment, her spirit was with me and always will  be. 

Growing up, I was always happiest outdoors. Joining the Gill family took me to a whole new level of love for the miracles of nature. James and I, along with our amazing Gill team, are thankful and humbled by your support in allowing us to share our love of plants and the outdoors with you.  

Thank you for being a part of Gill’s and Happy Mother’s Day to you!   


26 Comments on “Mother’s Day Message in a Bottle!”

    1. Thank you so much! We love that we get to share our plant and people stories with our community, and again, we are so thankful for your support of Gill’s! Sally

  1. Beautiful and heartfelt….our beloved Mother’s love is always with us. Happy Mother’s Day! 🌱🍃🌿

  2. Sally, I love your stories. This one especially warms my heart. Thank you for sharing this special one. Please keep writing, you are very descriptive!

    1. Wow Barbara! Thanks so much for your kind words. Writing for Gill’s allows me to get on paper important events in my life or in the life of Gill’s that otherwise would never be shared. What a blessing! Thank you Barbara! Sally

  3. Bayne sounds like a superb woman. How fortunate you all are to have had her in your lives and to have those wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing her and Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. There is no doubt she was the driving force behind us going into the plant business. Not that she came up with the idea, but she loved plants so much it made us love them too!! Thank you!! Sally

  4. Thank you Sally for sharing this beautiful story. It has been a privilege knowing you and your family and doing business at your store. Our “Late Bloomers Garden Club” from Portland has visited there often also and always enjoy and put to use the information you James and staff have to offer us. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Please thank the Late Bloomers Club (love that name!!) for supporting Gill’s and making use of our blogs and our staff to better your gardening experience. That is exactly what we hope for! Thank you so much for sharing! Sally

    1. And thank you Joanne for all you do for our community – teaching and showing plants that don’t need much water are amazing!! What a gift!! Thank you! Sally

  5. Sally,
    The combination of family, nature, adventure and love… the core ingredients of every great story.
    And the reason why I look forward to each of your enewsletters.
    Ok if I share your story with our writers group here in Hannibal, Missouri?
    They only let me join after convincing them I inspire other people to become great writers.
    My eighty word radio ad scripts didn’t qualify me as being a “writer”.

    1. I will do almost anything if I believe it will better our community’s success with gardening. When you told us, maybe five years ago the value of blogging, we started as soon as we got home from the conference and never, ever looked back. And I’d say it has been a big part of our success today. Thank you Robert!! Sally

  6. Sally thank you for sharing your beautiful story about your mother-in-law. I was not so fortunate to have had that kind of relationship with my birth mother or mother-in-law and it warms my heart to know that fairy tales really do come true. My dad met a lady after my parents divorced who could have been my mom if we were able to choose our mother’s. I had 25 years with her and she showed me what a mother/daughter relationship was supposed to be like. She helped me learn to enjoy Mother’s Day instead of dreading this day. Jeannie has passed and is in Heaven with my dad making him smile again. Thank you Jeannie for being the best mom ever. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven Jeannie. I’ll always love you.

    1. Congratulations to you Danna!! Isn’t it wonderful that you accepted her love, even though she came to you in a little different way. Thank goodness for her in your life!! Sally

    1. Thank you Chispa! It is extra special that you knew Ruth – aren’t related – and agree!! I’m sure Diana has extra special stories about you too! We would love to hear them! Sally

  7. I agree, Sally, some of my best memories are when I have spent time with family at our ranch in Live Oak

    county. We seem to find comfort there when walking the ground and remembering ones we have lost.

    1. And thank you Shirley for your hard work & commitment to developing and improving our botanical gardens for those that don’t have the luxury of raw land to explore. Nature is just as giving in a community setting. Thank you very much Shirley!!

    1. I bet you have a great family story to tell. It’s extra special when you can share with family and friends. Thank you for your support!
      Sally Gill

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