Memorial Day was set aside officially for a day of remembering and honoring military personnel who died in service to our Country. On Memorial Day weekend of what appears to be another challenging year, is it possible to put aside our differences and unite and honor those fallen for our protection? Let us give and plant flowers for remembrance and unity on Memorial Day.
General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic via General Order No. 11, wrote, “Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom they have left among us as a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”
Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, “The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion…Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers, and singing hymns.”
Flowers planted, displayed, and given have long been a sign of honor, respect, and memory. Beautiful summer colors for gardens and containers in patriotic hues can be done with plants that love the heat. A combination of Coleus ‘Redhead’ bordered by wing Caladium ‘White Pearl’ and Blue Daze will hold up to the summer weather and full sun, though partial shade also works. None of these plant selections are water-hungry either.
Other pretty choices for red flowers include Pentas, Caladiums, Gregg’s Salvia, Coleus, Lobelia, Pineapple Sage, and Blanket flowers. Blue flowers are a little trickier; Plumbago gives the most authentic blue if the container is large enough to accommodate the plant. However, close to blue choices include Blue Mealy-Cup Salvia, Blue daze, and Blue-eyed grass. White is easier to come by in both blooms and leaves. Try out Caladiums, Moss Rose, Pentas, and Angelonia.
Some folks have chosen not to place, give, or send flowers for Memorial Day or other holidays, birthdays, funerals, and many other life-passage occasions. In the spirit of Lady Bird Johnson, I say give flowers, who declared, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
Make the giving of flowers and container gardens an annual family tradition in remembrance and unity for us all.
This column first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.