This week I received a note from a friend. She’s read about my life through my newsletter, so I was very happy to finally get a glimpse into her life. When readers share, a connection is made. It’s beautiful!
Virginia (she signs her emails “Virg”) told me about her gardening history, how she’d had a lot of fun over the years tending gardens that she didn’t actually own. One she tended for 14 years, a church garden across the street from where she lived. When the Episcopalian priest went on vacation, she’d also take care of the “manse.” (Oooh, I thought, a manse! I wanted to see it, and the garden!) Other adopted gardens were a vacation rental by the water every August, and her son and daughter-in-law’s garden. As it was nearing Halloween, Virg mused on how she wished she had some marigolds. They would be just the thing for her black Depression glass salt and pepper shakers. Earlier she’d written to me about how her mother put garden flowers in the tiny containers, so fairy-like, so charming.
After mentioning the marigolds she wrote, “If I were my mother I’d just whip up a few crepe paper marigolds! If I were only a witch I would conjure up a few. Concentrate, concentrate, visualize——I’m in a trance—I’ll let you know if it works.
No, no not daisies, marigolds!”
I grinned reading that—and thought about marigolds, the favorite flower of El Dia de los Muertos, or the Mexican Day of the Dead. I’ve been fascinated with that celebration for a long time—so much more meaningful than just dressing up and candy!
The thought of crepe paper marigolds really intrigued me. My mother had mentioned making flowers and decorations out of paper as a kid, but by the 1960s it was considered pretty “old-fashioned.” Decorations and fake flowers were now mass-produced.
I looked it up and found that others were intrigued by these delicate creations. Of course they sold them on Etsy. WHAT FUN!
I wrote Virg back with the links to these blooms. I asked her if I could share her thoughts on crepe paper flowers and the holidays. She wrote back,
“I’m flattered, be my guest. I remember sitting in my crib downstairs when I was sick watching Mom making crepe paper flowers at the dining room table after supper while listening to Wayne King (the waltz king) playing The Waltz You Saved For Me, The Lady Ester program—radio, of course. I Remember Dennison crepe paper. This was BIG business back in the day. Look up the Dennison crepe paper costume books from the 20’s and 30’s, you will not believe Marie Antoinette in crepe paper complete with roses.!!!!! Do you have your black candles ready?”
She then sent me the link to a book on crepe paper costumes, which I ordered, and then she sent me a link for a free PDF of the book, How to Make Crepe Paper Flowers, now in the public domain, from the Dennison paper company.
Again—WHAT FUN. I was especially happy to the marigolds! Maybe next year I would (finally) be all set for El Dia de los Muertos. Maybe I would have some black candles, too!
Last night I found another free book, this one from Internet Archives. How to Make Paper Costumes, also from Dennison. It gives instructions for all kinds of enchanting costumes, including those that celebrate nature—flowers, vegetables, butterflies, birds, even “the elements.”
Somehow I feel that I will try this craft—or at the minimum enjoy some beautiful flowers from Etsy.
Thanks for connecting with me, Virg. You certainly brightened my Halloween!
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Sandra Knauf is the one-woman-show behind Greenwoman Publishing. Her books include the six-volume series Greenwoman, (a literary digest), her young adult fantasy novel, Zera and the Green Man, and an anthology of sexy gardening stories that she says is the feminist gardener answer to Fifty Shades of Grey—Fifty Shades of Green. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints and MaryJanesFarm. Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, dogs, huge urban garden, and lots of books.