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Flowers for remembrance, flowers for celebrations | Decorator Carleton Varney

Posted on June 10 2022

Carleton Varney Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

The recent Memorial Day holiday was for millions of Americans a time to gather, hold cookouts and celebrate the unofficial start of summer. 

Families whose relatives serve — or served — in the military marked a more somber day, as they reflected on their loved ones’ service to their country and those whose lives were lost as a result.  

Such a meaningful day, I think, should be filled with flowers. Baskets of geraniums, carnations, daisies and roses were surely brought to cemeteries all around the world — including the South Florida National Cemetery in western Palm Beach County — to honor the men and women who have been laid to rest there. 

As I was thinking about these remembrances, I reflected on the power flowers have to evoke memories. I recalled how I have purchased a passed loved one’s favorite flower when I’ve seen it at the market. 

In years past, too, I have planted sweet peas at my parents’ graves in Nahant, Massachusetts.

And for my own gardens, I am a great believer in planting flowers in memory of others. The joy I receive when they bloom reminds me of the happy times we shared together. 

Kneeling down and quietly working the earth, for me, is almost like prayer, a time of quiet contemplation.   


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