A Kansas Country Garden: Meanings and Memories

Poppies will forever remind me of Lydia, my mother's friend who gave me my first plants.
Some flowers come to us laden with emotion and meaning. There is more to a flower than just what you see. Very often memories of the giver of the original plant mingle with the blooms. The Victorians assigned meanings to all flowers making it possible to send a potent message with a bouquet. Of course some flowers had multiple meanings which could lead to some confusion. Beware of the yellow rose!

Of all the flowers iris seem to evoke the most emotion. Not all of it is positive. Some refuse to allow them into their gardens. Perhaps it has to do with a relatively short bloom followed by months and months of spiky foliage. Many gardeners find this a small price to pay for the enjoyment, however youngsters who must mow around and weed that foliage may grow up retaining a bit of resentment. 
A friend gave me my longed-for white iris.
A friend whose grandparents died within a few weeks of each other one spring told me that her mother would never grow iris in her garden. Since they were blooming at the time of her loss, she associated the flower with her grief. 

And yes, there are some who just don't like how they look. They are unique for sure, but obscene? Well, that's one opinion that I've heard. 

I call these "Grape Kool-aid" because that's how they smell.

The Victorians seemed to be quite fond of iris and endowed them with all kinds of meaning. According to one source iris meant Faith, Wisdom, Promise in Love, Hope, Wisdom and Valor (source). Who wouldn't want to receive an iris bouquet with meanings like that? Or it could mean "I have a message for you" (source) which might be just a little disconcerting. 

My favorite! And of course there are just a few blooms this year.

I am fond of iris. I think they add a graceful elegance to the garden. But I try to use restraint. They are interspersed throughout the garden where their spiky foliage blends well after they bloom.  

"When these iris bloom, they glow," said a neighbor when she gave them to me.
I don't believe I have ever purchased an iris plant. Several varieties were growing around the foundation of our house when we purchased it years ago. Others have been gifts, most often from my mother-in-law who has an amazing selection and where I must use the above mentioned restraint. 
A deluge of blooms on the Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia amabilis frames poppies and iris.
Which flowers kindle memories for you? Do you find meaning in the blooms? 

Iris multiply so extras are planted next to the privacy fence.
According to the Victorians, yellow iris symbolize passion.
Another flower that invokes many memories is the peony.

1 comment:

  1. So pretty, Bev! I love iris. I actually enjoy all flowers with the odd exception of gladiolus. I guess it's because they always have them at funerals. I did plant them at one time at another house and they grew, bloomed and then flopped over requiring staking, which annoyed me, so when we moved I left them behind. Isn't that amusing? We are funny creatures, aren't we? Thank you for this beautiful posting!


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