|One of the posters|
I found inside my
new tote bag!
Memorial Day and peonies are inextricably linked in my mind. Peonies generally bloom the last week of May, just in time for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was originally established in the former Confederate states in 1866 and adopted by the United States in 1868 (*See below) to remember soldiers who died during the Civil War - from both sides, Union and Confederate.
The ladies of Columbus, Georgia, began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers from their gardens, including the graves of Union soldiers, on May 30, 1866 - just one year after the end of the Civil War. For years, the holiday was called Decoration Day, before officially becoming Memorial Day.
|Here's the Peony|
When I was growing up, peonies were considered old-fashioned "grandma flowers," probably because the people who grew them were the older folks who still made the pilgrimage to the cemeteries on "Decoration Day" with tubs of cut peony blooms, and maybe because if you had any peonies in your garden, they almost certainly came from thinning the plantings at Grandma's house!
But peonies seem to have made a comeback - not only at my town's festival, but in the stores on printed fabrics and decorative items. There are a TON of YouTube tutorials on how to draw and paint peonies using every possible art medium available!
Every May there are big showy flowers all along one side of our house. So why did I buy two pots of additional plants? Well, you just can't have enough peonies! There's always a spot where you can squeeze in one or two more. Along with the Indiana Peony Festival, my town has established a "Peony Trail" - locations of notable plantings of peonies. I don't think our house will ever be included, but if you drive down our street you'll see plenty of peony beds. Here are some of my blooms.
I've decided to make the cemetery pilgrimage myself next year. I'll need all the peonies I can get!
*Although there were people from both the North and the South who embraced the sentiment of Decoration Day, there were others who weren't ready for reconciliation. Friancis Miles Finch, a Northern judge, academic, and poet, inspired by the observance in the South, composed a poem that was so widely circulated in newspapers, magazines, and books that by the end of 1867, Decoration Day/Memorial Day was adopted by the North, where it was first celebrated in 1868. In 1893 the poem was included in a school book published by Ginn and Company, Selections for Memorizing, alongside such standards as "Old Ironsides," "The Gettysburg Address," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and selections from Shakespeare, Dickens, Burns, and Longfellow, among others. Here's the poem:
The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)
|By the flow of the inland river,|
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray
These in the robings of glory,
From the silence of sorrowful hours
So with an equal splendor,
So, when the summer calleth,
Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
No more shall the war cry sever,