Flowers are often chosen for their symbolism, and few flower symbols are as powerful as the Memorial Day poppy. Even Marvin, growing up in the Bahamas remembers buying poppies to adorn his shirt on Memorial Day. And while for me Memorial Day is a symbolic start to summer (it’s the first day the buses ran to Jones Beach on Long Island, New York, where I grew up), the poppies make me pause to remember the real reason we break from routine the last Monday of May: To honor all who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice that I may enjoy carefree days at the shore.

The flower symbol of the poppy originates in the efforts of a woman, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields”.   Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.

While in South Florida you would be hard pressed to pull off poppies in your garden, you can celebrate the freedoms so many have died to protect in other flower forms. Spruce up your outdoor spaces this weekend for a full summer of enjoyment try Vinca, lantana, pentas and purslane for color that will persist in our summer heat. Looking forward to seeing you in the garden!