A few days ago I suggested a new open-ended Flowers of Remembrance geneameme: which flowers remind you of your family (close and distant) and perhaps even friends. I’d been reflecting how certain flowers, or plants, made me think of those who’ve gone before me and wondered if other people did the same.
So here is my own response: a mix of fragrances, flowers and plants.
My Aunty Emily (great aunt) was like a grandmother to me after my maternal grandmother died. Aunty Emily makes me think of pansies because they were on the china she gave me and her own china, the magnificent roses in New Farm Park where’d we meet for an outing. She also makes me think of the fragrance of lavender and violets.
My paternal grandmother is always associated with big blue-purple hydrangeas, which she had growing in tubs under the verandah. I don’t recall ever seeing cut flowers in the house.
My paternal grandfather makes me think of maidenhair fern which he had growing in old casks under the same verandah. Why he makes me think of ferns and her of flowers I don’t know…gender bias?
Dad conjures up thoughts of gerberas and roses. The gerberas were large double ones, usually orange, and he got the seeds from a nursery in Bundaberg (Bauer’s I believe). His Roundelay roses were spectacular and I loved a candy-pink and cream-striped rose that he grew as well, even though I usually dislike variegated plants (can’t retrieve its name). The mango tree and its flowers – the tree that was planted when he was born all those years ago – although a bit scruffy looking, still holding on, ninety odd years later.
Mum and flowers go together like a horse and carriage. We often had cut flowers from the garden in the house. Floral thoughts take me to pansies, sweet peas and Dad’s roses. The roses and sweet peas would go in a crystal vase but the pansies were always displayed in a heart-shaped frosted green-glass dish where they sat perfectly. Mum was also behind my habit of taking flowers to school for feast days and other special occasions. Flower arranging has been a hobby of hers for a very long time, for her own pleasure and for use in the church, or indeed our wedding reception.
Mr Cassmob is forever associated for me with the dainty bunches of violets he would buy for me while we were at uni –the jealous looks I’d get you wouldn’t believe. The fragrance was magnificent. He also evokes red roses and hibiscus and I thank my lucky stars that his mother taught her son not only to love flowers, but to buy them for his wife.
My mother-in-law loved flowers but only displayed them, one or two at a time, in tiny vases. Her favourites were hibiscus which she grew in Papua New Guinea, including importing a special purple one from Hawaii back in the 1960s. Each day a new hibiscus would be placed in a small upside-down bowl on the dining table. At her husband’s funeral we learned that he had bought her yellow roses, so that’s an earlier association.
My father-in-law, apart from those yellow roses, was happy to have flowers around, as having Kaye happy was one of his raisons d’être.
One daughter also loves fresh flowers in the house, whatever is seasonal, and for some of us our memories will be of her Nairobi house filled with gorgeous roses.
Another daughter turns my thoughts to flower arrangements which she seems to accrue fairly often in her teaching role and orchids and stargazer lilies remind me of her wedding.
My husband remembers his grandmother in country Victoria, for her mulberry trees, and his other grandmother for the roses in the front garden.
My good friend Linda is a lover of all flowers but especially the fragrant ones: jasmine, gardenias and camellias. Another friend has frangipani in her Christmas displays. Thoughts of another friend bring to mind the hoya cutting we gave her, that has gone beserk and grown magnificently for her.
And my own favourites? What would others say? Perhaps lavender or grevilleas or frangipani …or just any flowers. Mr Cassmob says violets and red roses. My daughters might say the Stargazer lilies that we so often have in the house here. What I really dislike are arum lilies and gladioli which remind me of the many funerals I attended at my primary school. Recently I’ve been developing a passion for peonies which is thwarted because you just don’t see them here.
Even though I don’t know my distant ancestors, I’d associate George Kunkel with orange blossoms from his fruit orchard, and of course what else would Mary O’Brien evoke but shamrocks?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little geneameme with its evocation of sight, fragrance and those we’ve loved, now or in the distant past.
What it’s made me realise is how little I know about the flower preferences of some of my friends, and that not everyone has cut flowers in the house. I know some people prefer them to stay on the bushes (Robyn, are you reading?) but I like them in both places.
Do you have seasonal or travel floral memories?
Mine are: jacarandas flowering in Spring in the Great Court, or round the lake, as a prelude to exam time at The University of Queensland; a mass of pink Eucalyptus ptychocarpa (now apparently Corymbia ptychocarpa) blossoms that appear in Brisbane and Darwin at this time of year; the bright yellow pom-poms of Xanthostemon in Brisbane summers (spectacular last year); native violets blanketing the garden; masses of grevillea in spring, the cerise flowers of Melaleuca viridiflora smothering the tree in my parent’s backyard. The Cassia fistula’s magnificent yellow pendulous flowers in Brisbane and Port Moresby, and their hazardous seedpods; and the Golden Raintree (Koelreutia paniculata) on our Brisbane footpath. The arrival of the Christmas owls in the liquidamber in our Brisbane back yard remain a precious memory even though the tree-phobic neighbour has won out and had the tree removed. The poincianas bursting into red flower as Christmas approaches, the pinks of the frangipani at Christmas and the flush of white on the melaleucas, the waterlilies on the billabongs in Kakadu. The wonderful gardens we visit during each year’s Open Gardens scheme throughout the Dry Season.
Do you remember those Scratch’n’Sniff books which were around in the early 70s? That’s what we need for today’s post! If you haven’t already posted on this topic, why not join in? Please leave your link in the comments or use a #flowersgeneameme twitter tag.
8 thoughts on “Flowers of Remembrance Geneameme”
Pauleen, you have such wonderful associations between the flowers and the memories they evoke. I feel as though their fragrance is with me. You have brought back to me the memories of all the flowers my mother and father grew in their gardens: Black-eyed Susans, lavender, Sarah Bernhardt Peonies, and my mother’s prized tea roses. Thank you for this beautiful post, and for bringing those flowers back to my memory. In the mist of our deep freeze, it makes me want to run out to the hot house and bring home a bouquet.
Thanks for commenting Jennifer and apologies for the delayed response. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog post as you know and I love the magnificent flowers you mention here…the gardens must have been beautiful. If you had a deep freeze the other day it must be worse by now & have you dreaming of the hot house, or the tropics. Cheers Pauleen
I hadn’t thought about it until I read your post, but I also associate different flowers with different people.
Sheryl, if you feel like it why not add your associations here in the comments as Kristin has done -I know it doesn’t “fit” on your blog.
Ohhh, I was going to do this! Poppies remind me of my maternal grandfather who we called Poppy. My sister and our cousins decided my grandmother, Nanny needed her own flower so we began to call marigolds “nannygolds”. My other grandmother had peonies in the back yard and in the front she had Petunias. For my mother I think of tomatoes and greenbeans because of her vegetable gardens. My Aunt Gladys always grew Begonias in the shady parts of the yard. A flower that reminds me of travel is the Daisy because my sister and I would make them into “dolls” when we stopped for lunch on the trip from Detroit to Idlewild during summers. We would pull off all the petals except on that we left on for a pony tail. Before I moved to this shady lot, I grew Petunias, Marigolds and Daisies in among my vegetables every summer.
I’m pleased you added yours here Kristin. It is interesting how we make these associations isn’t it. I love the idea of nannygolds but I’m not a fan of marigolds despite their companion planting benefits. Do you have any photos of the peony garden?
I don’t. There were just several plants in the backyard, under the sunroom windows. I remember being fascinated with the ants.
That’s a shame but you have a mental snapshot.