FLOWER LOVE ROOTS
My love of flowers began in childhood with carnations, lilacs, marigolds and azaleas. One of our neighbors was a flower grower of carnations. At the back of our yard and just beyond two sets of greenhouses, he had a huge throw-away pile of “not-good-enough-for-market” carnations. It was a constant source for bouquets to give our mom and teachers. I still remember the smell of carnations and the fun we had picking through the pile.
Then, those wonderful lilacs! Our next-door neighbor, “Unkie Al,” had a line of lilac bushes along his side yard. I remember that profusion of purple and sweet fragrance. Each May we gathered small bouquets, wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil to give our teachers (and mom). Each bouquet brightened four teachers’ day and ours for being able to share the beauty from our almost backyard.
The marigolds have a different reason for remembering them with fondness. They were always growing in the front yard because my father planted them. He may have liked the flowers, but I seem to recall that he planted them to help keep the mosquitos away.
The last flower of my childhood is the azalea. My grandparents’ house was surrounded with them in many colors– pink, purple, white, salmon and shades in between. My grandmother loved her azaleas. Almost all pictures of our visits there were taken on the front stoop or in front of those azaleas. She lived to be 95, and whenever I see azaleas I think of her.
When my mother was growing up, her grandmother grew peonies. Only after I brought a huge bouquet from Pharsalia for Mother’s Day did I learn they were her favorite flower. I fell in love with them, too. Peonies and dahlias tie for first place on my favorites. Good thing they grow in different seasons.