Flowers, Part 3

When I was working outside the home, Paul surprised me occasionally by sending flowers to work. Often it was on our wedding anniversary, but not predictable, because they arrived on other days too. Paul never sent a single rosebud. I would have liked that, and he could have saved money too. But nearly all the arrangements included a single yellow rose. That made me smile.

Paul’s Pappy Diefenbach was the most meticulous flower planter in his family. He planted hundreds of dahlias, canna lilies, cock’s combs, and others in many locations and designs. They were exquisite! Many photographs later, as we drive by their former home, we still envision the spots where he measured, prepared, planted and cared for myriads of flowers. Square foot for square foot, they would not be diminished by even Longwood Gardens in southern Pa.

We went to Longwood Gardens several times, once by motorcycle with Mary & Morris Oberlin. What grandeur in floral design! We also enjoyed Cypress Gardens in Florida, Niagara Falls Horticultural Gardens, and others. In recent years parks, places of business, banks, etc. go to great length to give the eye much to enjoy even if the business, entertainment, or amusement was the purpose of the trip.

My family flower extravaganza is in Williamsport every year. My cousin, Jim Solomon, has the most spectacular floral display of any I have ever seen. He has received awards too. Many people come to see them, including yours truly. His home lot is not exceptionally large, but he knows how to place the flowers for an awesome sensory experience.

Even though I started out two weeks ago saying, “Don’t send me flowers after I can no longer enjoy them,” In time of bereavement, I have appreciated the flowers sent to our home: potted, planted, and arranged. I also appreciate the starts of perennial flowers, cousin Jim has given me a large quantity of them. Thank you Doug Walter for the butterfly bushes this year. They have grown very beautiful.

In winter, I enjoy amaryllis, Christmas cactus and poinsettias. There were always those in my classroom as I taught. I love holly too, but could never raise them successfully. My students picked me playground flowers, I kept a vase in my desk for those occasions.

We moved from where we could see Nittany Mountain from our home, now it is the New Berlin mountain. I love these backdrops. The colors make a natural bouquet.

Flower smells give me different sensations. Roses make me think of fence rows (all those fence row rambling roses). Geraniums make me think of the smell of my mother’s hands. Lilacs remind me of playing in our yard after the barn work was done. Clover makes me think of feeding hay to the animals. Honeysuckle smell is equal to horseback riding along the woods. Mums always represent funeral smells to me.

When Paul’s younger brother was about 13 years old, a neighbor asked him to pick dandelion flowers (no stems). He picked a whole bushel for $3. Do you know how long it takes to pick a bushel of dandelion flowers? When they get to the top, they shrivel up and pack down. You can guess what the neighbor wanted to do with them, can’t you?

As I started out in the beginning of this series, I come back to the thought that I don’t like funeral flowers. There is probably some psychological reason for that which I don’t perceive. I do know I’d rather have flowers while I live. I’d rather give flowers – be it actual flowers, or kindnesses and especially cards, while my loved ones are still living.

Paul and I have had some struggles with health issues this year. Flowers and cards have been appreciated. We received four identical cards, as follows. So, I think it may have something to say to you as well as to us.

“Five things God wants you to remember in trying times.

You’re never ever alone.

Nothing takes him by surprise.

When you’re weak, he is strong.

He’s the God of new beginnings.

His love never gives up on us.”

Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Amen amen, and Praise God for this truth.

Betty Blyler lives in New Berlin with her husband, Paul. For comments, questions or speaking engagements, e-mail:

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