Rosalynn Carter’s vast contributions to flowers and farming

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter understood the stories that flowers tell.

She and her trusted assistant of 38 years, Melissa Montgomery, not only took in the sweetness of her favorite peach rose in the privacy of her home in Georgia but also mapped out the flowers that would speak about her – when her funeral took place.

“In the composition of her floral arrangements, Mrs. Carter’s connection to her faith, gardening, farming, birdwatching, as well as monarch butterfly conservation and environmental protection are symbolized,” shared Montgomery.

You may have heard how her children wore bright-colored leis at the private funeral this week for their mother as a nod to her love of Hawaii and their parents’ love story. In fact, Rosalynn Carter, who died at the age of 96, would wear red carnation leis while campaigning for her husband.

“For part of his time in the Navy, President Carter was stationed in Hawaii,” said Montgomery. “Their son Chip Carter was born in Honolulu. Given Pastor Tony Lowden’s description of the funeral as a celebration of Mrs. Carter’s life, the festive flowers were appropriate.” Mrs. Carter had fun learning hula dancing while living there, and her son shared how she even won a hula dancing contest.

That is why her sons, Jack, Chip, and Jeff Carter, wore the Kukui Nut-Ti leaf shell leis, which symbolize protection, peace, and guidance. Amy Carter wore a double dendrobium orchid lei with roses to honor her mother. The orchid also represents love and Aloha.

As a reminder of their happy times in Hawaii, former President Jimmy Carter, 99, wore a special cigar lei with the Maile vine woven in with Kika flowers. Kika is worn by males and represents respect and affection.

Maile leis are traditionally reserved for royalty, but the Carters, a humble king and queen of altruism, merited the tribute.

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