Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Flowers Have a Story

Hi there, Friends.

So, I was out in the garden yesterday morning, watering the flowers, when I came to a surprising discovery:  some of my flowers are taller than I am.

Yeah, I literally did wake up like this, and you can tell by my hair.

I'm not that short.  Some of these flowers have to be getting close to 6 feet tall! Made me feel a little like Alice in Wonderland.  

Maybe a different perspective will help.

My flowers are special.  No, not just because they are so tall -- most lilies get pretty tall.  And no, not just because I grew them in my garden.  These flowers are special because they were a gift, and they have history...

...and there may or may not have been a crime involved.....

but that would have happened over 30 years ago, and all of the participants involved are no longer with us, which makes me think it is safe to tell the tale. 

Hopefully not incriminating evidence

My street literally has the word "cliff" in its name.  Not surprisingly, it can be very hard to garden. Some spots in the yard are okay.  Other times Most of the time I can dig down about an inch before hitting solid rock.  Between the rock and the neighborhood critters -- woodchucks, deer, and rabbits to name a few -- it becomes quite the challenge to get anything to grow.

My neighbor, on the other hand, seems to have no issues.  He has gorgeous flowers, and his vegetables never seem to get munched with the same frequency as mine.  Granted, he has been here many, many more years than I have so he probably has this down to a science.  I've tried to copy his methods, but they don't seem to work as well for me.

A couple years ago he happened to be out working in his yard at the same time I was working on my garden.  He had one particular type of flower that was growing like crazy -- trying to take over his whole garden.  He had removed several of the plants, and he asked if I would like to have them.

Hell yes!  I will be more than happy to take them!  If they can grow that well next door then I should have a fighting chance of getting them to grow in my yard.  This was awesome.

I have managed not to kill them so far

And then he told me the story of the flowers, Friends.

When I bought my house, my neighbor and his mother both lived next door.  It is his family home.  I never got to meet his mother and only ever saw her briefly.  She was ill, and passed away not too long after I moved in.  

Apparently she and my neighbor's aunt were both avid gardeners.  They loved growing new and different types of flowers.  If they saw a plant somewhere that they really loved they would often ask for a clipping to take home and try to grow.

These flowers, according to my neighbor, are a bit different.  

Apparently his mother and his aunt had been touring over at Franklin D. Roosevelt's estate in Hyde Park, and they fell in love with these flowers.  This was over 30 years ago, according to my neighbor. He didn't know if they had asked for clippings and been denied or what the entire story was, but apparently they went back at some point and took some flowers.  Like under cover of darkness, just went back and pilfered some presidential flowers.  They had been growing in his yard ever since.  

Stolen goods....kinda, sorta

Now, I've been to FDR's estate several times since my neighbor gave me these flowers.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that before today it never even crossed my mind to see if my flowers were on the grounds.  Maybe it was because I was there to tour the library and home, or it was the wrong season for flowers. The idea piqued my curiosity and wouldn't leave my brain.

Since I was writing this up, I decided I should take a ride over to Franklin and Eleanor's place and see if I could find the flowers.  It would be a long shot.  A lot of things have probably changed in the last 30+ years.  I was hopeful, but realistically there were a lot of reasons they might not be there:

  1. The weather could have destroyed them over the years.
  2. Building projects may have caused them to be removed.
  3. Curator preference.
  4. Maybe they weren't historically accurate.
At any rate, it was worth the effort to go and find out.  The things I do for you, Friends.

I decided to start in the garden, as that seemed like the best bet.

Close, but not the same

More lilies, but still not right

The garden was lovely

And so, after walking the property and around all of the buildings, my search turned up empty.  There were a lot of beautiful flowers, but none of them were the same as the ones in my yard.

Do my flowers have presidential roots?  You can decide for yourselves, Friends.  I choose to believe that they do.  I can't imagine my neighbor would make up such a tale about his mother and his aunt potentially having committed a crime.  

Even if they aren't, I still think they are special.  They were a gift, and they have the magical ability to make me feel like Alice in Wonderland.

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