You know that feeling when a sight, sound, or smell transports you to another time or place-triggering memories from a time gone by? I experience this every spring when the lilacs are in bloom. The sight and smell of lilacs always bring up memories of my grandmother. This is in part because they were one of her favorite flowers. She liked to travel to our home in Vermont from Florida when the lilacs were in bloom. She loved how they smelled and would always pick a few to bring indoors for further enjoyment. She also loved to wear a tea rose-scented perfume, and to this day, when I smell garden roses, I think of her.
I also have floral memories of my other grandmother. Growing up, she lived down the hill from us, and I would often visit. I loved picking handfuls of beautiful bright yellow dandelions for her. I would show up at her door with dandelion pollen and sap-stained hands grinning from ear to ear with the gift I’d brought. She was allergic to those mini posies but didn’t want to hurt my feelings. She would ooh and ahh, making a big deal about the gift, and then she would ask me to put them in a vase on the porch for her. I’m sure she had to put them back outside after I was gone. To this day, dandelions remind me of her.
Likewise, I have chives and iris from my husband’s grandmother. I instantly think of her when those purple flowers bloom on these plants. And the smell of freshly chopped chives reminds me of her lovely gardens in Maine. It’s funny how flowers and their scent can elicit childhood memories.
Lily of the Valley will forever remind me of my mother. When I inhale the intoxicating scent of these blooms, I am transported back to our home in Vermont. I remember her picking them and placing small bouquets in bud vases around the house. Their scent would fill our home, and these little posies became a quintessential part of spring. Several years ago, my mother gifted me some of her Lily of the Valley plants, and as I write this, they are just about to bloom. I love that a part of her garden is now part of mine.
So, with all of my floral memories, I wasn’t surprised recently when I had an experience with a woman inquiring about my flowers. We started talking about daffodils, and I asked her if she’d ever grown the fragrant variety, Sir Winston Churchill. I had just planted this variety for the first time in the fall, and when it bloomed this spring, I was blown away by its fantastic scent and petite double flowers. She’d never heard of this daffodil, so I took out a stem and let her smell them. She immediately grew silent, and tears welled up in her eyes. She looked up at me and said they smelled like her grandmother. She took another sniff and started to cry. She obviously had been very close with her grandmother and missed her very much. Tears welled up in my eyes as well. There was a moment of silent understanding as we looked at each other. She thanked me before parting ways. I completely understood what a strong emotional response the scent of certain flowers could elicit.
This moment was such a profound experience for me. It reminded me just how much plants and flowers can link us to memories, whether of a loved one’s garden or the loved one themselves. And because of this, what I grow and share can significantly impact people’s lives. Being a conduit between the flower I grew and such a cherished, personal memory was a wonderful feeling. And it solidified why I do what I do, growing and sharing flowers.
Flowers are powerful. They can conjure memories, bring smiles or tears, offer comfort or apologies, and help us celebrate life’s most significant moments. They are subtly with us throughout our entire lives. So, it’s no wonder why so many of us have floral memories. It’s comforting to know that I relive special moments with loved ones through the sight or smell of certain flowers. Now that I’ve shared some of my floral memories, I’d love to hear which flowers have special significance in your lives.