Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lighting a Memory

Just a few more photos of our Lilies of the Valley. I only wish I could post their scent as well. :) I'm sorry for all the flower posts, but I can't help it. I love spring flowers! I already told you how my mother planted the original pips at our Little Red House years ago. Lilies of the Valley also remind me of May Crowning at our grammar school.

I went to a Catholic grammar school, and each May we always brought in fresh flowers to put in front of the statue of Mary, Mother of God. We also held a May Crowning, where one child (always a girl) was chosen to place a crown of flowers on the statue. I was chosen to do that when I was about nine or ten. All the girls got dressed up in our Sunday best, including white gloves, and the boys wore dark jackets and little ties. We processed into church side by side, singing hymns to Mary. We recited prayers and received holy communion. Then it was time for the crowning.

The statue was a tall one, placed on a plinth. The whole thing was about ten feet off the floor.

I am afraid of heights.

I had never been so frightened in my young life. My legs shook as I climbed the ladder to place that crown on the statue. Luckily, the crown slid right on and I was able to climb back down quickly with no mishaps. But I can never smell Lilies of the Valley without thinking of that day.

I really can't name just one favorite flower, but there are not too many that evoke such strong memories.

Do you have a favorite flower that triggers a memory from your childhood?


  1. I guess for me it would have to be roses. My mother had a mad love affair with them and always had them on the kitchen table. She transplanted some from my great grandmother's house when I was about 8. I helped her plant them. This was my first experience planting and I was hooked. There is something so wonderfully calming about giving in to the dirt. The end result is always so rewarding!

    Thanks for sharing your photos and your story!


    P.S. Can you believe I've never actually smelled fresh lily of the valley?

  2. Violets and lilacs remind me of my grandparents farm, oh and purple phlox. Grandma had a thing for flowers, just like me:>)

  3. Japanese snowballs--out yard was filled with them in late spring, that's how we knew school was almost over!

  4. I completely forgot about crowning "Mary, the Mother of May" from catholic prep school! The tiniest (and oldest) nun would climb the ladder to place the flowers, and I remember how we all thought "this is the year Sister Honora is going to fall off." It's been so rainy here I haven't even gone out to cut any of my lilies of the valley - thanks for the reminder!

  5. Wow...thanks for this latest post. You made me remember my own Catholic School days and especially the May crowning of Mary. Those were such sweet times. I was not lucky enough to be chosen to do the crowning, but I remember the beautiful flowers and songs and prayers in our very old, and very beautiful Church.

    I also have tiny bouquets of Lily of the Valleys all throughout my house. Nothing smells better!

  6. Lily of the Valley and peonies are at the top of the list Mary. It sounds like you did a great job at the May Crowning, but that's a scary thing for a child. It involves climbing to heights in front of people. YIKES.

    There's a perfume that smells like Lily of the Valley. It's one of Jessica McClintock's, I believe the original one. Oh, it's so light and beautiful.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  7. For me, lilacs remind me of childhood. I had a huge lilac bush under my window growing up, and my room would be filled with their smell. My best friend also had them at her wedding. Lots of happy memories of them.

    I also remember purchasing some flowers to plant at my parents house when I was in high school. I was determined to make it nicer whether or not they wanted to! One of my choices was a yellow rose bush. I just love the smell. That is still one of my favorites, and I just planted one at our new rental house.

    I love all the flower pictures, by the way. :)


  8. Lilacs. Our back yard was lined in them. They don't grow here in AZ, so when I do see them,(smell them) the memories are overwhelming.

  9. Lovely photos!

    Petunias remind me of my grandmother's flower bed alongside her driveway. Lilacs remind me of the lilac bush below my window growing up.

  10. What a wonderful ceremony and tradition. I was not familiar with it.

    Don't apologize for showing us flowers. I always love your posts regardless of the subject.

  11. It would be lilacs. Grandma had the most beautiful lilac bushes in the back yard around the fish pond. When they were in bloom I would just stand in the middle of them and take in the fragrance. I still do that - and remember two kind and wonderful people.

  12. Lilacs, hands down. The other evening we were sitting on the back patio and the smell of lilacs wafted our way. I was instantly transformed to a little girl at my Grandmother's home. She had several lilac bushes, different colors.Very sweet memories indeed.

  13. Some scents envoke such great memories and there is nothing that compares to the smell of lily of the valley. Those delicate little flowers only last a while, but are so giving in aroma and beauty. I lvoe your pictures of flowers, don't ever stop delighting the eye.
    Regards, Peggy from PA

  14. Peonies, wild roses and lilacs remind me of my childhood. Each Memorial Day my Dad (yes, DAD) would cut peonies and wild roses to take to the cemetary and place on the graves of family members. We had the biggest lilac bush at the corner of our front yard. To this day, the smell of lilacs is almost intoxicating -- I love it.

  15. I grew up in an old-fashioned house with a wire fence around the back yard. On one side the fence was covered in lilac bushes. On the other side, peonies. So those always bring back my childhood. When I worked in Philadelphia I looked forward to spring, when the sidewalk flower vendors would sell bunches of lilacs. I loved to buy them and take them to put in vases in my office. They smell like spring!
    When we moved to Kentucky, we found that there were already peonies blooming in our new back yard. So that helped me feel at home.

  16. Never too many flower posts for my taste! The lily of the valley are so delicate looking but everyone says they grow very well, although I have always managed to lose mine after 2 years.

  17. Beautiful photos of the lilies of the valley, Mary, don't you just love their scent?!
    When I was growing up, my neighbor, Mrs. Bankus, had a beautiful flower garden that was always in bloom. WhatI remember most was the smell of her petunias and how bright and colorful they were (sometimes I would sneak in and pick some)!
    Now whenever I smell petunias I think of Mrs. Bankus and her wonderful garden.

  18. I remember sucking the nectar from some flowers (how brave was that....and I am still alive), I believe that were Honeysuckles (how apropos) and we had a huge Syringa ( Mock Orange) in the yard that I adored. I rarely see or smell them anymore, but when I do I am about 5 years old again! My Mom planted one under my bedroom window just before I left the nest and now it is very large and must blossom profusely.


  19. There are so many memories associated with the scents of flowers and flowering trees that it is hard to pick one. But I would have to say honeysuckle, would you believe it. I remember the long summer nights, playing outside until you could no longer see and then playing tag in the dark only coming in when you were exhausted. Back when there were no worries or fears, life was carefree.

  20. Gorgeous photography Mary, just gorgeous. Tulips are my favourite flower, and whenever I see or smell them I think of when my husband and I were first dating and he would send me tulips every Friday, even when they weren't in season, he would have them flown in for me. How could I not marry such a man?! lol Your story also reminded me of my school days where I went to an all girls catholic school, I always seemed to be in trouble which wasn't good as one of my Nana's sisters was the head Nun! Oh the
    Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

  21. I adore your photos...I am so glad you share because I have not seen any of those in quite some time...

    I adore lilacs...and bittersweet vines remind me of my home in New England.
    Hugs to you Mary..I'm sure your house will be absolutely perfect for the girlfriend...after all you don't want it to look like a stuffy museum...right?

  22. Your photos are getting better and better and I did not think that possible! I always thought you had such talent...but look at these! Wow.
    Flowers and their scents evoke such blissful favorite? Lilacs.
    We had several lilac bushes at the rear of our yard. There was also a willow tree there and I use to sit out there and read. My friends all loved to be there as well so there were tea parties and picnics and girlhood chatter aplenty.
    Mom also had the prettiest tulips planted in between the lilacs. Each Spring I would tale the teacher huge bouquets of tulips and lilacs and they loved it. I always cut some to bring into my this day, I can still close my eyes and picture that glass vase filled to overflowing, with white and purple lilacs.


  23. Gardenias... where we lived in California, they were everywhere and my whole childhood world smelled like them. My grandma Bonnie always had them in the house too. Sweet memories...

    I loved your story.


  24. This post was such fun to read. I love the smell of lilacs out of doors, but not in the house. I love the scent of lilies of the valley, but the sweetest scent that I so rarely find anymore are the Mayflowers which grow wild in the fields low to the ground...heaven!

  25. My lily of the valleys just started blooming this week. Yes, they do have a wonderful scent. Love the story. I am terrified of heights as well, and I don't think I could have done as well as you did!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!