Friday, September 19, 2008

Birthday Flowers


I've written before in my newsletter and my blog about the concept of Birthday Flowers, that is a flower that blooms on your birthday. My mother associated the Amaryllis Belladonna with my birthday because it blooms in Southern California where I was born on September 4, my birthday. It's also called Naked Lady and there's another flower called Naked Lady, the autumn crocus, which blooms in Seattle, where I live now, on my birthday.

This year I was worried as my birthday approached because I didn't see any sign of my birthday flowers where they usually bloom, in the parkway of a residential street near my work. Then on the day before my birthday, my daughter invited me to go on a long ramble with her through the nearby park. On our way home we spotted some of my birthday flowers emerging from a patch of dirt outside a brick apartment building only a block from our house. It's not a block I usually travel, either when walking the dog or on my way to work or the store or the library. In fact, I'm only on that block when the lindens are in bloom. So it was a nice find. It's one of the great things about being a naturalist in the city, that you can discover something brand new right around the corner.

On the day after my birthday I was on my way to work, traveling along my usual path, and there were my birthday flowers in their usual spot. I don't know how I missed them on my previous trips. I'm not sure how I feel about having the autumn crocus as my birthday flower. It's highly poisonous but also poignant, appearing in the midst of a blighted landscape as a pale apparition of vulnerable beauty.

Do you have a birthday flower?

12 comments:

bohemiangirlpdx said...

My mother told me that she associated rhododendrons with my birthday, which is April 26, because they were in bloom the year I was born , and she knows we're having a late spring if they are not yet in bloom. As a child, one of my favorite places to go for my birthday was Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (in Portland, Oregon)--initially that was probably more for feeding the ducks than looking at the rhododendrons but in time I grew to appreciate the flowers too. During the years that I lived in upstate New York (where we often still had snow on my birthday), I remember feeling homesick for rhododendrons on my birthday.

Karen said...

I know the flowers for my birth MONTH, sweet peas and daisies, but I never really thought about the flowers I actually see ON my birthday. I'm going to be much more aware next time it comes along and see what's blooming. Happy Belated Birthday!

Deborah Weber said...

Waverly -

Lovely post - I'm so glad your birthday flowers showed up! I was reading a bit more about autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) on Wikipedia and they mention that the flower may be in danger of extinction. Such a sad thought!

I'd forgotten about your previous mentions of birthday flowers, but I absolutely love the concept. My birthday is in July so it's too late for this year, but I'll certainly be watching with new eyes next year.

Thanks for once again sharing such loveliness with us. And belated birthday wishes.

Deborah

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

I love the idea of the rhodoendron as a birthday flower and the way your mother used it to track the spring. That's such a great use of phenology.

Karen, I'll be looking forward to hearing what shows up on your birthday.

Rochelle R. said...

The crocus are lovely I thought they were only a spring flower. I live in the house my grandparents lived over 40 years ago and the naked ladies my Grandpa planted still bloom every year in the late summer. Not only are they such a pretty pink but they also smell very nice.

linde.brocato said...

Autumn crocus are also the source of saffron, are they not?

And happy birthday...

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

Rochelle,

The spring croci are a different species than the autumn ones. Good thing too because we eat the stigma of the spring flowers as saffron. They are crocus sativa while the posionous Autumn crocus is colchicum autumnale. The pink naked ladies that smell so good are the Amaryllis belladonna. PArt of the delightful confusion of flower names.

May Louise said...

I would love to have a birthday flower, however I live in Edmonton, Alberta, where nothing blooms out of doors from Samhain to after the Spring Equinox . . . and my birthday is in January. Tulips and primulas start to bloom in the grocery stores around then, although hothouse flowers don't compare to wildflowers and garden flowers, do they?

Waverly Fitzgerald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aurora's Babble-On said...

Like Karen said, I know my birth month flowers are (September)asters, but how do I find my birthday flower? I was born on Friday the 13.~I found your blog and web through Chattering Mind.~Thank U

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

Aurora--
The whole idea of a birthday flower is for you to find one that blooms where you live on your birthday and adopt it as your birthday flower. And please let me know what it is.

May Louise--
I am wondering what those of you born in the winter will do for a birthday flower. The French Republican Calendar solves that problem by featuring stones and minerals for every day in January.

birthday flowers said...

to search for a birthday flower that bloomed to where i live is pretty a whole new idea to me. but it's interesting.. really interesting..

- sabrina m.