It's the time of year where we gather flowers in the form of baskets, plant seedlings, or seeds. What garden is complete without flowers? Here are my favorites, in order.
Hands down, no competition, game over. Number one to me is the humble zinnia. The annual requires work to get it in the ground each year, but after that, it will do the rest without fuss and offer abundant blooms throughout the growing season.
Above all flowers, this one reminds me of my mother as we planted zinnias together. I love the multi-colored packets of these seeds and seeing the brilliant hues unfold as they bloom.
In short, zinnas make me happy. Other flowers may be pretty or even beautiful but I can walk away with no emotional response other than to acknowledge the beauty. Oh, but the zinnia requires a reaction, either inwardly or outwardly.
Several years ago, and I do believe it was the summer after my mother died in May, I stopped by a summer farmer's market in the town where I live. It was mid or late July because the bounty of zinnias in jars for sale was enormous.
Maybe it was the raw emotion of losing (or thinking about) my mom, or that it was a particularly difficult summer due to Sam having surgery and then my father-in-law passed, but I recall nearly bursting into tears at the sight. I raved to crazy-lady status to the vendor about the zinnias. She gave me a free jar, saying, "It's worth it to see someone that happy about a zinnia."
Not only are peonies soft and full and hearty, and they return each year like clockwork to bloom in May, but they speak of my childhood.
We had two white peony bushes on the farm and I associate their perennial blooms with the end of the school year, the promise of summer, and all the joy that came with it.
Now I associate the peony with the cover of my second book, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, and that they are my beloved state's official flower.
We have one peony bush, with blooms in a hot pink.
In another nod to the days of old, sweet peas bloomed in a couple of places and I bet they still do out there on the farm. They too speak to the start of summer, of beginnings, and swimming in the pond, riding ponies with my friends and family, of the carefree days of youth.
They seem an old-fashioned flower. I rarely if ever see them when I'm out and about. An heirloom flower? Something that is out of favor or considered invasive? I don't know but I find them, well, sweet.
This. The sweet-faced pansy. I admire how they bloom and endure in surprisingly early conditions when snow even falls on their darling faces. And this, yes, is my color. Not only is it my favorite pansy color, but my favorite color period.
Oh, and the sunflower. Don't they shine on their own? So sturdy and strong? They hold up so well when brought indoors but how I love to happen across a field of them. Of course I don't love them half as much as the bees do.
On this rainy May day, I look forward to a summer of seeing and enjoying flowers. Of stopping to smell the peonies or sweet peas.
What about you? What are your favorite flowers?