What do flowers have to do with family history? This morning’s walk around my neighborhood was lovey with flowers blooming in flowerbeds, trees in full leaf and lovely summer sunshine. It occurred to me that as we write our family stories, it’s important to capture little details like flowers in our written accounts. Let’s look.
I have friends who can remember in detail all kinds of events in their childhood. I remember many happy times but usually need a picture or conversation to trigger some of those moments. This morning’s walk went past a flowerbed full of marigolds. They weren’t the typical bright gold marigolds but the rusty red with lacey accents of gold. I remember my grandma having these marigolds in her flowerbed under the farm windmill. And as I thought about it, I remembered my aunts teasing me with the snapdragons…pretending they would talk as they manipulated the petals. And the happy red and white striped petunias that provided a bright colored spot in the flowerbed were remembered. Do you have similar memories? Flowers seem to be in many parts of our lives from our beginning to ending.
Here are some ideas for how you can use flowers to paint more details in your family history.
Look carefully at old photographs.
Big events like weddings, anniversaries and funerals often included flowers: the bridal bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere, flowers on the cake, the corsages for the couple and the funeral spray. Perhaps some families had flowers for birthdays. Usually we look at the people but look at the old photos. It might tell you more about the event and the family.
Check out this history of flowers in weddings.
And another about flowers at funerals.
Check out newspaper articles.
Those of us who grew up in small towns or rural areas have the added blessing of having quite long and detailed information about what people wore, what flowers they had and who attended. It’s nice to know the date that grandpa and grandma married but isn’t fun to add that she carried a bouquet of roses and baby’s breath?
If you are fortunate enough to have receipts from an ancestor’s special event, you might find out how much they paid for the flowers for a funeral or wedding.
Small things like flowers serve little purpose other than creating a pretty spot by the house. As our ancestors established their homes on the prairie having something as simple as a few flowers to brighten up their yard made all the difference. Think about when you were growing up. Are there flowers that you remember growing up at your own home or a neighbors or grandparents? Did your grandma always have irises? Or tiger lilies?
Meaning of flowers
There are several books about the meaning behind flowers. In Victorian times, a gentleman needed to be well-versed in what the flowers meant when courting his lady. I don’t know that people put as much store in the flower meanings but just think about a few that still come to mind: Red Rose = love; Peace Lily = peace, innocence, rebirth; Daisy = innocence. Here is a great article by Catherine Boeckmann on the Old Farmer’s Almanac site.
Weaving flowers into your family narrative can add that splash of color to your family story. Enjoy adding these blooms to your family history!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.