Friday, April 9, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Bridal Wreath

Some say it may be the oldest cultivated shrub.

Speria, common name 'bridal wreath', is not as common as it used to be.

It may be because they can grow to be quite large, taking up too much room. Also, their blooming time is short; the blossoms can come and go in a few days.

But, oh, those few days!

One of the first shrubs to blossom in the spring, they are quickly covered with black bumblebees. Soon, their white petals makes the ground beneath the shrub look like a light snow has fallen. There are new varieties now that are more compact and hold their blooms longer, but I love the old fashioned ones better.

This lovely shrub may have gotten its name when its flexible twigs were woven together to adorn a bride's head. It is said that the white wreath of flowers symbolized the bride's purity and virginity.

At old "home places" in the country, one can find bridal wreath, sometimes struggling among weeds and other shrubs that have been unattended for years. They can be easily dug up and moved, and were often shared with neighbors in a time when there was no money to buy landscape plants, even if one could find some available.

The Bridal Wreath that is growing in my yard came from some roots dug from the yard of my grandmother's first home, probably there since somewhere around 1915. I don't know where she found it, but I'm sure it was from someone's yard. A part of it has moved every time my family did, and it is thriving today.

Sometimes, the old things are the best things.