Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flower Favorites and their stories

Unlike our host this week, Ann-Christine of Leya (sounds like a princess’ name, and indeed she is Lens-Artist royalty!), I do not grow flowers or keep a garden. However, I have loved and cherished them and have stories of how they have made happiness bloom in my life.

Lilacs

My first favorite flower is the Lilac. There was a row of lilac bushes that belonged to our next-door neighbor that sat on the dividing line of our properties. When they bloomed for two short weeks in early summer in Illinois, their fragrance intoxicated me. I wanted to cut the bunches and bring them to my room so that I could smell them as I went to sleep. I was soon instructed by my mother that first, they weren’t mine, and second, they would quickly drop their blossoms and become a mess to clean up inside. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have my own lilac bushes and surround myself with their lovely perfume. I missed lilacs while living in California, but my husband planted dwarf lilacs for Mother’s Day at our house when we moved back to Illinois. Then he took me to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, where they have a Lilac Festival each year, and he bought me a small bottle of lilac essence, which I dabbed on my skin with sheer delight until it was all gone.

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian, open

Fringed Gentian was a legend on the restored prairies of land protected by the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation of Wisconsin, where I worked for five years. I had never heard of this early Fall flower before or seen it until I was in my 50s. One September day, my friend Jerry (on the Board of the Foundation and their main trail steward) called me up and told me to grab my camera – the Gentians were up! I was absolutely enthralled by their tightly twisted blooms that opened to four fringed petals of blue perfection.

Rose

The Rose speaks of love silently
In a language known only to the heart

My late husband, Jim, loved roses. He gave me lots of them. He gave me the crystal plaque with the above inscription when I was in High School. It sits in the curio cabinet I inherited from his mother. Next to it is an acrylic-coated and gold-tipped rose, a souvenir from the weekend we spent together at a couples’ resort, a mini-vacation from our four kids. I love roses with the deep scent of raspberries; the soft, furry sweetness of their aroma is a heaven of blissful indulgence. They speak of romance and exclusive preference, to me. They will always remind me of Jim. I have moved into houses where rose bushes were left behind in the garden. The blooms were always a gift, not something I felt I had earned. I suppose that’s totally appropriate for a love flower, and why it is so very special.