Why the hydrangeas?

I've been meaning to write a post about my obsession with hydrangeas for a while now but I've found a void in explanation until recently. You may be wondering what the big deal is with dried flowers and what they represent/why I use them in almost every photo these days............
The story starts when I was just a girl living on East Adams Street in Taylorville. I had a neighbor named Mildred and she was probably about 80 years old or more. We would visit and drink tea together for hours and never run out of things to talk about. I suppose this, then, was my first infatuation with an older person of any sort. She had such a story and a history behind her life and I was so interested to get to know more about her. She would keep my dolls to babysit while I was "away" and also she'd bring out milk for my cat when she'd climb up in Mildred's tree. We'd sit on her front porch and wait for my cat, Kelsey, to finally climb down. To get to the point: Mildred had what I used to call a "snowball" bush in her backyard that fascinated me even when I was little. I used to make potpourri in jars with the small, beautiful flowers that'd fall off the tree and decorate my room with them. I truthfully forgot about how much I loved hydrangeas until I was cleaning trash out of my front yard about three years ago with my friends Shelby and Rita. We stumbled upon three or four clusters of dried flowers by our white picket fence and thought they were so beautiful. I immediately became interested in them but didn't quite know what that meant or where it would take me.
Fast forward a bit: I transferred colleges and moved to Champaign-Urbana two years ago and discovered the abundance of hydrangeas in this town. I became obsessed with the natural color of the dried hydrangeas and how a dead flower can be so impossibly beautiful. I had never been so obsessed with a flower before in my entire life. The beauty in death really opened my eyes to another spectrum of self expression I'd never thought about before. After this realization, I started to develop major plans involving them with an art show last year. The art show is still currently in the planning process, but I did start spray painting them when I was appointed VP of design and decoration for College Fashion Week. My idea was to spray paint the hydrangeas and decorate the main runway event with them in spring colors. From here on out I just enjoyed using them as props for photos because they are just so beautiful and unique. 
Then I became obsessed with placing them in hair. Here's a photo from a photoshoot I styled called Dried Nature this past winter. I loved the look of the dried grass and the dried flower petals resting in their hair. This was also used as a theme in my Paulie Antiques runway show last Saturday. 
Back to Mildred: She passed away one day and I felt so sad and lonely. The feeling was so lost and hopeless... I had lost a great friend who knew so much more about the world than I ever thought I would know... but I still had her hydrangea bush in her backyard to remember her by. Even when the flowers dry up and die for the winter they are beautiful. This, truly, was the beauty that I saw in death at a young age. Every time I look at a hydrangea I think of the beautiful, huge hydrangea bush in Mildred's yard and how she taught me so much about being a person. I will never forget her.
It's a continuing obsession that don't seem to be ceasing in interest to me any time soon. Do you have an obsession with a flower or a place? A smell? A color? I'm interested. I get really carried away with my obsessions! I want to hear about yours! XOXO
love, polly


Katie said...

Your photos are gorgeous! I love the way fresh hydrangeas smell in my home. :) My obsessions are less focused, but always of the crafty sort. Today I'm obsessing over a cake I decorated this morning. :) Who knows what tomorrow's obsession will be?

Katherine - The Beauty of Life said...

This is such a beautiful story, Polly! My grandfather just passed away at the very end of last year and I am often reminded of him through things in my life and how much he meant to me and taught me. Jazz music will always be to me like hydrangeas are to you! Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I get the hydrangeamania> I'm totally obsessed with them, too. Can you tell from the pieces I make? ;)

xo Rae

Maria Elyse said...

Aw, Polly, this post was so, so beautiful. I loved reading it. ♥

I have a huuuuuge obsession with Peter Pan- the Disney movie, the newer live action movie, the book, the collars, hahaha. When I was little I would watch the Disney movie all the time, and at age 3-4 I seriously believed in Peter Pan. I would go by my window each night and pray that he'd come take me to Neverland, and I'd set out my favorite nightgown and slippers to change into in case he came. We went to Disney World the next year and I wrote a letter to give him (I still have it!) but we only saw him a parade there, and I was really upset because it didn't look "like the real Peter Pan!" Haha, but anyway, now, 12 years later I'm just as obsessed as ever. :)

Maria Elyse

Madeline Grace said...

I love this story Polly! It is such a great memory to have with such a beautiful flower. I love Hydrangeas but I love the story you have so much more. <3

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

Beautiful post. I love hydrangeas, too. I have a tattoo planned that features them. :D I am just crazy about that pic with the blue skirt, red shoes, handbag & flowers. Stunning, stunning. xx

Jennifer said...

What a truly beautiful and moving story!

I too adore hydrangeas; when I worked as a florist, I tried to use them as much as I could in bouquets. They're just delightful!
They're also a symbol of devotion, gratefulness and understanding, which I think is very sweet.


Unknown said...

Lovely post, Polly! I adore your fascination with the flowers and with your neighbor in equal measure.

As for my own obsessions, I have many as well! All flowering bushes fascinate me, and I am planning to plant several around my new to me home this summer. My current favorite is the Rose of Sharon.

I have a neighbor named Carolyn, a woman several decades older than me, whose wisdom and insight never fail to delight me. There is just so much to be learned from our elders at every stage of our life, don't you think?

xo, Anita