Bouquet of the Week: A Germany-Inspired Bouquet For Mothers’ Day
As part of our recurring Bouquet of the Week series, Garden Collage continues to present a weekly inspirational bouquet that incorporates intriguing new elements into the traditional practice of flower arranging. This week, Marketing Director Lena Braun styles an elegant bouquet with a German twist in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Working and living abroad presents a lot of interesting challenges, like quelling the feeling of culinary homesickness and trying to connect with fellow transplants. As Mother’s Day approaches, another conflict arises: How does one make a real European bouquet for Mom when it takes many hours on a trans-Atlantic flight to get home?
The Union Square Farmers Market has become my go-to source of inspiration for such cases. Unfortunately, I will not be able to send my mother a self-made bouquet but she follows the floral development of my rooftop and fire escape garden with great fascination. Yes, there are online flower deliveries, but that’s too easy and I love her so much that I want to actually make her present– just like old times.
This year, I decided to make my mother the typical European Flower arrangement, seeking inspiration at my local market. Many flowers at the Union Square Farmers Market seem like the perfect gift for a mother, but for my mom I needed the old school plants.
It is interesting to see the variety of succulents and exotic flowers that farmers grow locally nowadays, and I was tempted to arrange those until I remembered the essence of my self-granted quest: to stay “old school.”
In Germany, during Mother’s Day, it would normally be your grandma or nanny taking you to the flower shops and markets. This naturally led to a specific choice of flowers. They are usually durable– flowers that can handle the shaky grasp of a child, the trip home from the market, and the fact that most children hide them from mom until Mother’s Day arrives.
Here is a list of flowers that usually ended up in a typical Mother’s Day shopping bag:
- Primrose, primula vulgaris
- Miniature roses, rosa
- Forget-me-not, myosotis
- Daisy, bellis perennis
- Bleeding heart, lamprocapnos spectabilis
- Pasque flower, pulsatilla Vulgaris
My mom told me all the Latin names of plants, since it is sort of a tradition to learn the language in Germany. My grandma also made sure I could pronounce the common names, too– this was very important to her.
Most of the flowers in my mother’s bouquet have a sentimental poem or story associated with them, such as the Forget-Me-Not (genus myosotis).
Old German folklore says that God was almost finished naming all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name.”
Another 15th century legend talks about a knight and his lady as they walked along the river and picked a bouquet of flowers, but because of his heavy armor the knight lost balance and fell into the river. The weight made him drown quickly but he threw the small posy to his beloved lady and shouted, “forget me not!” before he passed. This tragic story inspired other ladies to start wearing Forget-Me-Not’s as a symbol for faithful love and loyalty. (If you love these old tales, have a look at the Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast Of Little-Known Facts, Folklore, And History by Jack Sanders).
For my transcontinental arrangement, I chose some Forget-Me-Nots from Vanhouten Farms, and combined them with three small pots of Argyranthemum (a type of Dill Daisy called “Sassy Whites”) from Stokes Farm. The simplicity and sentiment of this arrangement really dovetails with the farm-to table movement, which is very popular in Germany. It’s a trend towards the things we know and can produce naturally in our immediate environment– the things we love, like mothers, for being exactly who and what they are.