Matching the flowers to the memory
It was a conversation over lunch after a Botanic Walk and Talk at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden that introduced me to Barbara and Chuck Batove’s beautiful story.
Barbara knows Joe Hamm, whose Daffodil Hortus in Washington County is a legendary collection of nearly 2,000 different varieties. Barbara is planting specific daffodils at the graves of loved ones to memorialize them.
“I started as soon as I met Joe (Hamm) at the farmers’ market,” she says. “I saw he could go back to all different dates, so I decided to look up all the birth dates of all the people that we know and love.”
There are two places the special bulbs have been planted, with six graves in Hickory and four at the Independence Cemetery. The earliest is one introduced in 1905 for Chuck’s grandmother.
“They were beautiful,” she says about seeing them bloom the first year. “I think it’s a way to honor the family,” her husband adds.
His role is mostly physical: “I’m the digger,” he says with a laugh.
Barbara also has added named varieties to the graves, ‘Audrey Hepburn’ for her aunt and ‘Robert Redford’ for her brother. “Joe finds them for me.”
For summer there are other meaningful cultivars planted.
“My mom always like yellow mums,” Barbara says. “My aunt Mary always liked the bigger mums. I just pick flowers I think they would like.”
The couple lost a child and try to find bulbs for her. “Some little, tiny daffodils, because she was just a baby,” Barbara says quietly.
Reflecting on why she planted the daffodils, Barbara says, “It’s just satisfaction. I guess they are looking down on me. I lost my family young, so I didn’t have them, it’s just a memory.”