The Flowers of “Gone with the Wind”
One Christmas break when I was a little girl, I picked up “Gone with the Wind” and started reading it. I didn’t put it down for three days straight. I only surfaced to eat dinner with the family. Like every girl that has read Margaret Mitchell’s novel , I fell in love with the image of cedar lined roads leading up to sweeping Antebellum mansions surrounded by crepe myrtles, magnolia trees, and flowering beds of cape jessamine and zinnias. I fell in love with the flowers of “Gone with the Wind.”
This Week’s News
I hadn’t thought of the book in years until two news stories this week brought back memories of those days curled up in my great grandmother’s sleepy hollow chair (What an amazing chair for reading in, but that is for another blog post!), steeped in the saga. The first story was about HBO Max temporarily pulling the movie, “Gone with the Wind,” until they could include a “discussion of its historical context” with the movie. The second story was about the country group Lady Antebellum changing their name to Lady A. The trio acknowledged they did not take “…into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before The Civil War, which includes slavery.” It reminded me that I first learned the meaning of antebellum by reading “Gone with the Wind.”
I remember how I felt as I read the parts about the slaves. As a little girl, it was hard for me to wrap my arms around one human being treating another human being that way. Later as I studied the Civil War in history classes, “Gone with the Wind” actually helped me understand the emotions on both sides. For me, the book and the movie never glorified slavery; it had just the opposite impact on me. Hopefully it will have this same impact on future generations–allowing the beauty and romance of the antebellum south to come through while shining a spotlight on the atrocities of slavery.
The romance of shade lined drives reign supreme in the south, and it’s easy to see why. During summer months, the shady drives give needed respite from the heat and humidity. It is this very heat and humidity though that allow the romantic flowers of “Gone with the Wind” and antebellum Georgia to flourish. Crepe myrtle comes in white or shades of pinks and purples. They are delicate and fringy, and I love them because they are one of the few trees that bloom all summer. Usually the color you get from flowers is it ground or bush level. Crepe myrtles provide color up high. My crepe myrtles are probably about fifteen feet tall now and start blooming just about the time the shorter lilac bushes in front of them lose their blooms.
Magnolia trees are forever associated with the south for me. I know magnolia trees thrive in this part of Virginia, but my image of them is gracing the expansive front yards of antebellum mansions. Since working at the flower shop, I have discovered the wonders of magnolia leaves. Their dark shiny top side are gorgeous in arrangements, but it’s the leathery underside that fascinates me. If you’re looking for a more masculine look, including magnolia leaves in a way that highlights that leathery underside is a perfect addition.
I had to look up what cape jessamine is. It’s the old fashioned name for what we know as gardenia. If you’ve ever had a gardenia plant, you know the heavenly scent the blooms produce. It’s a smell that I associate with steamy summer nights and flickering fireflies. We are able to get gardenias when they are in season, but they are definitely a special order flower that you’ll want to order well ahead of time.
What’s not to love about zinnias? They are just happy flowers! They come in vibrant colors with gorgeous texture and symmetry to their blooms. Some zinnias remind me of my old spirograph drawings that I did as a little girl. It fascinates me that mother nature can produce so much intricacy and delicacy in each bloom. You can’t go wrong with zinnias in the garden or zinnias in an arrangement.
Flight attendants always tell us to put on our own oxygen mask first because that is the only way we will be capable of helping our loved ones. As our world wrestles with pandemics of disease and racism, the ability to maintain our sense of balance and joy is essential. Scientific studies prove that flowers reduce stress and bring joy. That’s why this week it seems perfect to highlight the flowers of “Gone with the Wind” and antebellum Georgia. We’re always here to bring joy one vase-full at a time!