A Look Back: Italy's Flowers

March is here and hopefully this means warmer weather is around the corner so that we can start looking at the beautiful flowers. March is always a great month; a time to prepare for the beauty that will blossom all around us. March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph, a celebration to the patron saint of workers.
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Please enjoy this article from our late editor Paul Sciria. It was printed in March 2014.

Splashes of flowers of all colors across the Italian peninsula are symbolic and often celebrate Italian values, beliefs, and customs. In many instances, the stylized lily is regarded as the national flower of Italy and the carnation is regarded as the national flower on the island of Sicily.
Among the national, native, and glorious flowers grown and loved by Italians are the oleanders, seen scattered throughout Rome, the cascades of Bougainvillea against the backdrop of exotic shrubs in Ravello, the nonstop splendor of carnations and orchids scattered throughout the resorts of San Remo, and the azaleas that frame the Spanish Steps in Rome.
The rose and the violet are regarded as symbolic flowers for the nation, and both the white poppy and the white lily are symbols of religion. Across the mainland, Italians enjoy growing jasmine, lilacs, cyclamen, periwinkles, cornflower, dahlia, geranium a Grandi Fiori, Margherita Gigante and flowers of infinite variation.
Traditionally, the flowers of celebration and gifting include yellow and pink roses, white lilies and confetti flowers. The sensitive or touch- me-not plant is the mimosa, the perennial herb with fragrant blooms named for the way it folds when it is touched.
Italians typically avoid chrysanthemums, which are said to be the flower of funerals and mourning.
Italy everywhere is a like a painted masterpiece of flowers on balconies, implying an Italian tradition of warmth and hospitality. The pink and red geraniums appear to be the favorite colors on most balconies.
Flowers are also important to Italian feasts and celebrations. In June, the Festival of Lilies at Nola (Naples) recalls the homecoming of a bishop after a long imprisonment in Africa. For the May feast of Corpus Domini in Genzano (Rome), a street is laid with floral carpets of elaborate motifs representing coats of arms and multiple designs. The petals are separated from stems, which are ground up and used to make frames for the panels. For the feast of Corpus Domini, the colorful and decorative designs made of flower petals are laid out along the streets of Assisi and Bolsena.   
Italy’s national, native and popular flowers further enhance the stunning natural beauty of Italy and continue to support the remarkable contributions of its unparalleled culture and rich heritage.