Our Flower and Our Colors

But how were they chosen?

Mrs. Yardley wanted the Lily of the Valley to be the Federation flower. It has pretty white blooms and a wonderful fragrance, and it stands for feminine values such as love, motherhood, and purity. But when a few clubs suggested other flowers, there had to be a vote. The Lily of the Valley won, 29 to 6, and Mrs. Yardley was happy.

I don’t know whether Mrs. Yardley knew it, but as pretty as it is, the Lily of the Valley is best admired from a distance. Every single part of is poisonous – the white blooms, the red berries, the stems, and the leaves. And remember – no matter how thirsty you are – don’t drink the water in the vase!

Next, Mrs. Yardley wanted to pick Federation colors. Everyone liked blue, but Mrs. Yardley, who was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, wanted to add another color. She wanted blue and buff, the colors of George Washington’s Continental Army uniform.

Blue stands for loyalty – essential to a soldier. Buff is the natural color of tough buffalo leather, which soldiers often wore as protection – a buffer against injury. And, if you were being shot at, what would you rather wear – dark blue and neutral tan or a bright red uniform like the British?

There’s another reason why Washington chose buff and blue. Martha Washington’s grandson said that Washington deliberately chose blue and buff because they are “the ancient Whig colors of England”. The American revolutionaries were British until 1776, and they were Whigs, not Tories. Waving their blue and buff banners, Whigs fought against the abuses of the crown. They wanted religious liberty, a representative government, and basic human rights for everyone. 

So, thanks to George Washington and Margaret Yardley, we got our Federation flower and colors. The beautiful but poisonous flower reminds us of a woman with all the feminine virtues and the strength to defend them. The colors stand for basic principles of human rights, tolerance and good government. Together, Continental Buff and Blue with the Lily of the Valley remind all of us of the ideals of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs.