Reprinted with permission from the author, this piece will be published in "Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul" (February 2001).
I had picked out the flowers in my wedding bouquet carefully, with thought for the meaning of each one. There were blue iris, my fiancé's favorite flower; white roses, symbolizing purity; and strands of green ivy, to represent faithfulness.
Midway through our wedding reception, I found myself breathless and happy, chatting with friends and juggling champagne and my flowers. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see a woman I had met only briefly, a friend of my new mother-in-law. In her hand, she held a long tendril of ivy.
"This fell out of your bouquet when you were on the dance floor," she said. I thanked her and began to reach for it, when she added, "Do you mind if I keep it?"
I was startled at first. What sort of person would ask for the bride's flowers? I barely knew this woman. What did she want with my ivy?
"Go ahead, keep it," I said with a smile, and congratulated myself on being gracious in the face of a rather odd request. Then the music started up, and I was off again in the crowd.
A few months later, the bell rang at our new home. I opened the door to find that same stranger on my porch. This time, I couldn't hide my surprise. I hadn't seen her since the wedding. What was this all about?
"I have a wedding gift for you," she said, and held out a small planter. It was crowded with thick, healthy foliage. Suddenly, I knew.
"It's the ivy you dropped at your wedding," she explained. "It looked healthy, so I took it home and made a cutting, and planted it for you."
Years ago, at her own wedding, someone had done the same for her. "It's still growing, and I remember my wedding day every time I see it," she said. "Now I try to plant some for other brides when I can."
My wedding ivy has thrived for many years, outliving any other effort I've made at indoor gardening. As the giver predicted, a glance at the glossy leaves brings back memories of white lace and wedding vows. I treasure the ivy's story, and have shared it many times.
Now, nearly 20 years later, I'm the mother of three growing sons. Someday they'll be married, I know. And although I don't want to be an interfering mother-in-law, surely the mother of the groom can suggest that the bride's bouquet contain a bit of ivy.
I know just the plant to cut it from.