There are occasions in life when one is at a loss for words, worrying if anything they say may add to the hurt rather than the healing; these are the time to send flowers.
Azaleas, a symbol of womanhood, convey the message “take care of yourself” in the language of flowers and will speak for you in a time like this when you want to reach out in comfort but aren’t sure exactly what to say.
Unfortunately, losing a baby before it is born is a heartache that more than one in four women and their partners will experience in a lifetime. A small pot of azaleas will not only let them know you are thinking of them in this time of loss, but in warmer climates, can be planted outside in memorial.
Azaleas are small, flowering shrubs that are related to Rhododendrons and are often sold by florists and garden centers as potted houseplants. The flowers can be white, pink or red, with newer varieties in coral and orange becoming more common recently. When buying or ordering azaleas to be sent as a gift you can ask that they be potted in a pleasant basket or other pretty container with sphagnum moss and a bow.
With filtered sunlight and regular watering, these plants make excellent houseplants and will grow for years inside in a sunny room or by an East or North-facing window. They prefer acidic soils and can be helped along with a fertilizer with a low pH (often labeled as “for acid-loving plants”) or a bit of water run through old coffee grounds.
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In Zones 8-10, these lovelies will grow outside in the landscape. Depending on which species it is, they will flower in the spring or the fall and may be deciduous or evergreen, so ask the florist to include a tag that gives information specific to the cultivar.
The azalea evolved on several different continents, with species native to Asia and the Americas. Featuring heavily in eastern art and poetry, the azalea is often associated with womanhood and the ability of women to forbear loss. The Korean poet, Kim Sowel, captures this poignantly in his poem, “Azaleas.”
When you turn away from seeing me,
gently, without a word, I shall send you away.
From Mount Yak in Yongbyon,
I shall gather an armful and scatter then on your way.
Step after step away
on those flowers placed
before you, press deep, step light, and go