Most country women had either a flower garden or patches of flowers that they planted somewhere near or around their house. However, my mother never planted flowers, so the only flowers that I remember (at our house) are the pretty yellow daffodils that I picked along the highway and the sweet, fragrant Honey Suckers that grew along the school-yard fence.
Now, on the other hand, our neighbor, Mrs. Brown had a real flower garden that I thoroughly enjoyed. I say that, because flowers are the love of my life, and without those pretty blossoms, what would I have to beautify my world? My grandmother obviously liked flowers too, but unlike Mrs. Brown, perhaps she wasn't that "into" them to plant an entire garden.
Let me digress. Perhaps you've not seen flower gardens, but in my opinion, they are a housewife's private version of business nurseries. They plant rows and rows of flowers the same as they plant rows and rows of vegetables in their garden. They plant all of these lovely flowers and don't sell a one. They either give their blossoms away or use them to decorate their homes. I have a sneaky feeling, too, that long before families could afford "funeral flowers," these flowers were donated for that purpose. Can't be too sure of that, but it's a thought, anyway.
I believe it is late winter or early spring when women order packets of flower seeds (from catalogs) or buy them from the stores uptown. Those little dry pods in those pretty, small packets are like gold nuggets. They seem to be prized treasures, and these homemade florists appear so anxious for winter to pass and for the earth to warm up enough for them to start diggin' in the dirt to bury their little seedlings. While flowers are my first love, I never volunteered to help Mrs. Brown nor my grandmother in their gardens. The fun part for me was staring at their blossoms, and I also loved looking at the pictures of the flowers on the flower seed packets. That's as far as I got. I never desired to plant any.
My grandmother spent most of her time crawling up and down the rows of her veggie garden, and though she planted several varieties of beautiful blooms, she didn't go all out like the self-made florist, Mrs. Brown. I remember small bunches of flowers growing on the west side of Grandma's house where the evening sun helped them stay bright and vibrant.
There could have been Azaleas, Zinnias, Pansies, Petunias, Begonias, Forget-Me-Nots, Peonies, Black-Eyed Susans, Sweet Peas, and my favorite fragrance, Gardenia. And, of course, there are tons of wild flowers (like Clover, Daffodils and Honey Suckers) that need no tending. They just spring up each year on their own, bask in the warm sunshine, drink water from heaven, and simply stand their ground. They don't need anyone to fertilize their soil or dig around their roots. They take good care of themselves all by themselves.
Then, on either side of Grandmother's tall porch, there were "tamed" flowers that somehow grew as tall or taller than her porch. I never figured out how she managed to find flower stalks that would grow so tall, because most flowers grow close to the ground. I can still see those beautiful yellow and brown sunflowers at the top of their stalks moving lazily with the hot summer breeze.
And as much as I love flowers, I never helped Grandmother weed or tend to her little, colorful babies. I hope she didn't think I was lazy for that. I just didn't like dirty work, but I just wish she and Mrs. Brown knew how much I appreciated the time, energy and effort they put into making my world beautiful with the lovely flowers they grew.
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