Memorial Day isn’t just a day off – it’s a day to honor those men and women who died in service for their country

Memorial Day isn’t just a day off – it’s a day to honor those men and women who died in service for their country. Many family members and friends of veterans who died will take a moment Monday to reflect, perhaps even drive out to a cemetery and lay some flowers on their grave. The following list is of the top 10 flowers and arrangements you can purchase for that day when we all should remember.

10 What kinds of flowers people choose on Memorial Day have a lot to do with the climate. In Eastern Jackson County, it can get a wee bit warm on the last day in May. Because of that, an associate at Roberts Nursery and Florist in Blue Springs suggests artificial flowers – any type. Also influencing this decision is the fact that many cemeteries remove the flowers from markers a few days after they are placed.

9  Your local florist may know a thing or two about silk floral arrangements, specifically designed for memorials. Bouquets and wreaths are very popular in silk flowers. Color them red, white, and blue; you can even play with flags.

8 Carnations – especially in patriotic themes. Dana Nigro, co-owner of Village Gardens in Blue Springs, said you can’t go wrong with them. “People want durability, especially if it may get warm out.” A cone arrangement is good, but don’t forget scissors and a jug of water.

7 Chrysanthemum – often called mums, which come in about  30 species. They are a perennial flowering plant and are, Nigro said, quite durable. They can be placed in baskets or upon a wreath.

6  Ageratum, a short, usually blue to bluish-purple annual flower; alyssum, another short, trailing, usually white annual flower; lobelia, a short, trailing, usually blue or white annual flower, and salvia, a medium-sized, usually red annual flower. Do you see the running theme?

All of these flowers offer the patriotic color choices people want when honoring fallen veterans.

For an accent, use geraniums, which come in a wide variety of colors – even pink, white, salmon and purple shades.

5  Not all flowers and flower arrangements have to be placed at the cemetery. In many cases, the family of those who died in service can be the recipients. If that’s the case, a rose wreath and garland is a good choice. Hanging them on front doors is also a good way to let people know you’re thinking about veterans.

4 Cauldrons or Greek urns filled with colorful annual flowers are a good choice, too. Call the cemetery first, though, before you place these; there might be restrictions.

3 Planted cemetery logs. They look like window boxes and their framework is usually constructed out of rough-cut wood. Oftentimes you can purchase the logs, fill them with soil and plant the chosen flowers yourself – and think about the person you’re honoring while doing it.

2 There’s something to say about simplicity, and Memorial Day flowers are no exception. Buy a rose and place it quietly on the grave. As the associate at Roberts Nursery said: “Most people just want something simple.”

1 Red poppies. The idea for red poppies is believed to have come from Moina Michael, the first person to wear one in commemoration of the fallen. She wrote her own poem in response to “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written in 1915 by John McCrae. She wrote: “We cherish too, the Poppy red/That grows on fields where valor led,/It seems to signal to the skies/That blood of heroes never dies.”

She was also the first to sell poppies to her friends and co-workers, the money from which she gave to benefit servicemen in need.

If you should buy red poppies, consider spreading them on the grave, a symbolic gesture. In McRae’s poem, he describes a WWI military cemetery in Belgium covered in red poppies. You can also make tissue paper poppies with your children or grandchildren. That would be a good time to explain what Memorial Day is all about.