Earlier this year I read The Language of Flowers, a novel with the Victorian language for flowers threaded through the storylines. In that era, flowers conveyed various emotions and intentions - so you'd assemble and give a bouquet carefully and thoughtfully. (I loved learning about this code!)
I don't assign these intentions to plants in quite the same way, but I do love linking them to memories. This week I experienced two distinct plant nostalgia moments.
The first: snapdragons. My parents nurtured beautiful gardens when I was growing up, and they were able to start plants earlier in the season thanks to a greenhouse space my dad renovated behind our garage. In addition to smaller pockets of flowers around the yard, there was a big flower garden and a large vegetable garden that's even more magnificent in my memory now that I've had practice tending to my tiny garden plot. Snapdragons will always remind me of those gardens. They were one of my favorite flowers as a kid because my dad showed me how you could pinch the bud and make the snapdragon open its "jaws" like a little puppet. Chomp, chomp.
I bought a bouquet of flowers at the farmer's market on Saturday and figured out when I got home that it was the sunflowers that caught my eye - but the white and yellow snapdragons that compelled me to buy it.
And later in the week, I opened the door and saw that one little snapdragon flower (unrelated to my bouquet) had dropped onto the patio overnight. (It's upside down, so it's a little harder to picture the chomp, chomp puppet motion I described earlier.) I don't know where the nearest snapdragon plant is, but the sight just about made my morning.
The second nostalgia moment concerned dill, and this one is two-fold nostalgia now. The smell of dill is one of the scents that brings me right back to those gardens growing up, which is funny to me because I wasn't particularly engaged with the process of harvesting dill or cooking with it. But because the smell was linked so closely to that memory, I loved the idea of including flowering dill in my wedding bouquet. And my mom, who put all of our wedding flowers together with help from a couple of friends and family, made it happen!
Now I love the sight and smell of dill (and flowering dill) because it reminds me of both the gardens from my childhood and my wedding bouquet. Imagine my total delight when I got to the garden earlier this week and saw that the dill had started flowering! It was the first time I've seen flowering dill since our wedding in September. I stood there and just watched it for a little while.
I broke a few stems off, not to encourage more dill and fewer flowers, but because I wanted to keep some in a vase at home. A mini-bouquet:
Gardens are gifts for many reasons, but this week I was reminded how clearly they can connect everyday plants to memories and experiences, recent and distant.