My Signature Flower

by Stefani on 14-April-2010

I think I need a signature flower.

Erin has her peonies. I don’t think I’ll ever meet a peony that doesn’t bring her to mind.

Hydrangeas will always remind me of my grandmother.

Daylillies are for my great grandmother.
Roses are my mom.

Zinnias are my mother in law.

The interesting thing is how similar these flowers’ personalities match their people. Words like “hardy”, “youthful”, “reliable”, “old fashioned”, “practical”, “understated”, “cheeful and bright”… some of the same words I’d use to describe her flower also apply to each of these special ladies.

So what’s my flower? Years from now, which certain smell, which burst of color, will remind my loved one’s of their old mama?

Thus far, I have been able to grow daylilies, but those are taken.

This year I have managed my very first ever irises.


They are so amazing to this wanna be gardener, breathtaking really. They’re tall, graceful, showy, dignified… in other words, um… perfectly wonderful but not ME at all. I’m over the moon to see their bright faces right here in my own yard, but they can’t be “my” flower. We just don’t match. I could never be an iris.

I saw some lovely ranunculus at a recent trip to the botanical gardens (and at Erin’s place too!), but I haven’t tried to grow them, so I don’t know much about their personalities.

They have lots of unexpected layers. I know that much.

Maybe I’ll have to try to plant some in the fall and see how we like each other.

Do you think that one’s “signature flower” could be weeds? Because I’m really good at growing those.

I think though that maybe, just maybe, my garden holds a little secret this year. You see, we planted a butterfly garden last year. It was kind of a flop. We started too late and the summer was too hot and dry. Everything just died.

I took it personally.

It would appear though that before my flowers up and died, they reseeded themselves. Or maybe some sympathetic bird dropped some seeds for me. Whatever the case, I have a lush crop of SOMETHING. I just don’t know what.

They are lovely and green and thriving… two or three different kinds of things!… but I don’t have a clue what they are. They don’t look a bit like any of the things that I remember planting there!

You know there is nothing quite like gardening to make me feel like a complete moron.

My son has caught me, more than once, staring at those green things, willing them to tell me who they are. He laughs at this. He holds my hand and he says, “You can’t rush it, Mama. They’ll make flowers when they’re ready.”

Smart boy.

So we sit and watch them grow. He giggles over my impatience and ignorance and I tell him that “I can’t grow flowers but I sure do grow some fine men.”

Whatever these flowers turn out to be, I have a feeling that they will always remind him of his silly, wild, trying-ever-so-hard mama.

Visty April 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

Love it. I don’t think I have a signature flower in the eyes of my children yet, but if there were one, it would be the lilac, only because they bought me a lilac bush years ago and it has been a full family effort to keep that bugger alive. We are still not sure of its fate.

Stefani April 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

Oh! I think it would be wonderful to have the smell of lilacs remind folks of you. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for that bush!

Visty April 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

Oh, and to me, those plants kind of look like these things we get (weeds) that just burst and burst and make you think a grand flower is coming, and all you get is a very tiny yellow thing. By the time the truth is revealed, the suckers are huge. I don’t know for sure, though. I am no gardener.

Stefani April 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

Ha! Well that WOULD be rather like me in more ways than I’d like to admit!

Anna April 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

<3 this sentiment. truly, you may not have a choice as to what your loved ones associate with you when they are grown. i'm sure, though, that it will be a nice surprise.

Stefani April 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

You’re right of course. None of those women in my life set out to earn themselves a flower pair… it just happened. Of course it won’t stop me from trying. 🙂

Dawn April 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

This post made me smile Stefani! So great!
Reminded me of my husband’s grandmother… lilacs will always bring her to mind!

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:44 am

Lilacs do seem perfect for a much loved grandmother. Maybe I just haven’t lived and loved long enough yet to have a flower 🙂

Shannon April 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months but this is my first comment. I’m shy! But I thought I’d weigh in on your flower pics. The top pic looks like a snapdragon or a milkweed (Monarchs love them.) And the bottom I’m thinking a Salvia of some type. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hello there! I’m so glad that you decided to comment. It’s always such a treat for me to meet someone new here. I hope you’ll chat with me often!
Well…. those top ones COULD be milkweed. We did have some there last year, just for the monarchs. In fact, I do sometimes find myself convinced thats what it is, but then I start to doubt myself. The leaves seem so much rounder and shorter than I recall our milkweed being. This whole business of flower raising is such a lesson in patience for me!

Kobey April 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Hi Stefani,
This list brought many memories to mind. Roses are my great-grandmother, Clematis is my mother-in-law, lily of the valley is my mother, Peonies are my father-in-law, and Johnny Jump Ups are my husband. Boys can have flowers too. Zinnias actually remind me of Mr Blue Yonder and his kindness.

To my point, my grandmother was incredibly green thumbed and her garden was magnificent. However, I associate wildflowers with her. We had many wonderful rambles checking out the various wildflowers in VA. One of her favorite trips (and one of her last) was checking out the magnificent and different wildflowers you have in Texas. She was thrilled with the bluebonnets, indian paintbrush, mexican hats, … Anyway, I might guess that your boys might also pick wildflowers because of your lovely rambles and rainbow chases.

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:47 am

Oh Kobey… you’ve gone and made me all teary.
I don’t think that I could hope for anything more than for my boys to remember me with wildflowers!

Just Peaches April 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

When my son was in junior kindergarten he made me a card. Each of the children had to draw a flower for their mother – there were roses and daisies and tulips and then mine – Queen Anne’s Lace complete with one teeny tiny red blossom in the middle. It brought tears to my eyes – Queen Anne’s lace reminded him of our walks along country roads in the summer.

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:49 am

Oh that’s the sweetest thing! What a sweet little man!
I’ll bet that Queen Anne’s Lace will always remind you, long after he’s grown, of the little boy that held your hand on those walks.

Hannah April 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Why don’t you be bluebonnets? They grow best in the wild — the breezy open — and they’re ever so Texan. You often find them along the road to the most lovely places — an integral part of an adventure in the blue yonder.

Amy J April 15, 2010 at 9:36 am

Totally agree with this!!!

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

Well y’all are so sweet, and I kind of DO think that the boys will think of me and their Nana each spring when the bluebonnets arrive. After all, they have so many memories of us plunking them down in the flowers for photo shoots and bribing them shamelessly for just ONE good one 🙂
I don’t think I could claim bluebonnets though. As much as I would love to, it kind of seems like they belong to all of Texas, you know?

Molly Hyde-Caroom April 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I had to laugh at your “weed” comment. When my husband bought me flowers for my birthday last year he asked for wildflowers (no carnations or roses-unless they are wild) and the florist said “can you tell me a bit more what she likes?” and he explained the wildflowers that I love and the florist said “ah yes, weedy”. I love that you have flowers associated with the people in your life, I know the feeling, I do too!

Janelle Neely (Benji's mom) April 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm

You’re a Daisy Stefani! 🙂

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

And YOU are a dear!
I’d like to be daisies… so bright and cheerful and unassuming. I’ll have to plant some! And you know, come to think of it, if I buy flowers for myself, it’s almost always daisies. We’ve had many many spring suppers with a jelly jar of daisies on the table 🙂

Miko's Girl April 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm

As many of the flowers in my yard were pass-a-longs, I think assign the flowers to the person who gave them to me: Aunt Dot’s Irises, Auntie Ann’s Lillies, Dave’s Crane’s Bill (Dave is a former Sunday school teacher), Jamie’s Daisies, Patricia’s Mom’s daylillies, Rhonda’s Solomon’s Seal, and Aunt Helen’s Astilbe. The exception is hydrangea’s which make me think of playing with my sister and using the leaves as money in our pretend games.

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:51 am

My great grandmother always did that very thing. I’d ask her to tell me the name of a pretty plant or flowering shrub and she’d say, “Oh that’s Aunt Vera’s Bush!” I loved that about her.
What a sweet thing to have flowers remind you of your childhood games with your sister. I guess we never can tell what we’ll remember, can we?

stephy April 15, 2010 at 7:39 am

Love this post! I’m thinking of my grandma today who could grow just about anything. I’ll be deciding what kind of flower she was as she was so very special to me and I would love to remember her like this. I believe you have some milkweed growing there. We planted some last year and it is popping up all over the yard! It’s a wonderful plant to have as the monarch caterpillars love it! Happy Spring!

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:55 am

I would love it if it turns out to be milkweed, and we did have some there last year so maybe. It’s just looking so different to me… rounder. Of course maybe that’s because it’s not reached maturity. It’s both delicious and awful waiting to see 🙂

Tai April 15, 2010 at 8:25 am

I love this! What a wonderfully unique way of saving memories of ones you love. All those beautiful blooms just put a huge smile on my face and anticipation in my heart for the upcoming summer where we can enjoy their splendor! Thanks for sharing!

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

Well thank you, Tai. I kind of feel like I’m turning into an old lady with all my photos of flowers (you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg here). But spring in Texas is just such a lovely lovely thing. Here’s to lots of sunny blooms in your near future too!

Amy J April 15, 2010 at 9:39 am

My grandma was gladiolas, my mom is geraniums (red), my MIL is pansies. What am I? I don’t know, but how fun to plant a million flowers to find out!

Stefani April 15, 2010 at 9:59 am

Are you good at flowers???? You will have to teach me! It’s such a comedy, me and the gardening. I was out front yesterday wrestling with the oak suckers that are coming up all over my beds. I hadn’t intended to start that project, but they drive me crazy, so I whipped the little scissors out of my purse and took after them. My sweet older neighbor who lives across the street came over with a pair of garden clippers, gave me that “your poor little dope” smile and said, “Honey, you can borrow these if you need them.”
I didn’t dare ask her to come in back and look at my mystery plants for fear she’d laugh herself silly and tell me that I was growing a fine crop of common weeds.

Colleen April 15, 2010 at 11:45 am

My favorites have always been lilacs and lily-of-the-valley. I planted a lilac in our yard, but so far it doesn’t do so well. We will be moving to a new (yet OLD) house soon, and I’m excited to see what’s already planted, and what I need to add to make it “mine.”

(I’m just hoping that my daughter doesn’t end up associating creeping charlie with her mom, just ‘cuz I spend so much time trying to get rid of it!)

Joanne April 16, 2010 at 8:02 am

The unknown plants might be wild phlox….. after a few years, the planted phlox goes “wild” and reverts to natural state. These will bring white flowers that (ahem) aren’t my favorite… so I usually pull them. good luck!

Holly Grantham April 19, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I lurk among your readers, as well, but I LOVE what you do here. You are such an inspiration to me. When you get a chance, you can check out how “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” on my blog. Your fingerprints are all over my writing.
ANYWAY, I agree with Shannon. I think that your second picture above is a salvia of some sort. Our house’s previous owners gifted us with a bed of purple salvia right off of our front porch and they are beautiful! The pollinators love them and they last all summer. I just cut them back in late winter, when they are all dead and before they start to leaf out again.
I’m kind of with you with the growing thing. I’ve had moderate success but time has been my best teacher. You learn so much from your own mistakes. Gardening is not something for the impulsive. It really is like growing a family. It happens over time.
Thanks for all that you share.

Stefani April 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Well hello, Holly! Thank you so very much for such a kind note.
I will absolutely get over to your blog and get acquainted with you!
And you think Salvia, huh? Well I’m completely dumbfounded by that. I don’t think we planted any salvia there last year, but then again… well it does seem that I have fewer and fewer brain cells left every day, and we DID plant all sorts of things, so I guess it’s entirely possible.
You are so right, nothing but time can make me a gardener.
I’m beside myself over these plants. I stare at them several times a day thinking that I’ll figure it out, but there’s really nothing at all to do but wait. Funny that a 36 year old mama is still learning about patience 🙂

Kaci Lusk April 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Hi Stefani, I must say I loved this post. I haven’t been around to read your blog in a minute and this one made me sigh. Not many people in my life are asssociated with flowers, but my Papa. I recently told my sweet hubby that when our yard is finished and it is time for planting (probably next year – we are still remodeling the house and fixing to build the daycare building in the yard), that I need a snowball bush. I don’t know what it really is, but my Papa had one and I miss him and the people who bought his house cut his down and I need one to remind me of him every spring when those gorgeous snowballs appear.

I love to garden, although I am not great at it either. I think my children would probably call me a daisy. I am absolutely in love with their pure, simple, crisp, clean prettiness. I can’t get them to grow up here in the dry Texas panhandle, but I almost always have a bouquet inside.

Deirdre May 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

I’m a novice gardener, but I love your site and want you to go buy yourself a blue flax. It grows well here in the Utah high desert—low water needs (though the first two years you’ll need to help it with water). Once it’s established, it comes back every year and totally surprises me every morning with new blue flowers. They need to be wild, aren’t the type to be picked and brought inside (maybe more symbolic of your boys!).

I love the kind of low maintenance plant that pays you back with a new bouquet every day.

Nicola-Jane June 4, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Hi Stefani,

I’m a new subscriber from Denmark in Western Australia. Have only just started to explore your site after reading your wonderful ‘Flashlight Tales’ the other day (which inspired me to order all those books from the library). I’m about to embark on homeschooling my twelve-year-old son. I’m scared and excited, but so inspired to read what other homeschoolers are doing out there. This is a gorgeous post and I wonder if by now you have discovered the identity of your mystery flower? Perhaps you can tell us all here? Or maybe there’s a later post that answers the question.

Thank you for your beautiful site. 🙂

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