Oak Hill Cemetary
Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo credit: Bhall87 / Wikimedia)

When he was a child, Kansas resident Ken Lassman visited his ancestors’ graves every Memorial Day.

Lassman: “I’m fifth-generation Douglas County. I was born and raised here and so it was kind of a big deal to go out to the Oak Hill Cemetery. It was just this annual ritual.”

The 64-year-old remembers that on those visits, he always saw the colorful blossoms of peonies – a traditional graveside planting.

Lassman: “I thought it was really cool that the past generations thought about our generations by planting those peonies so that there would be something blooming on Memorial Day.”

But as the climate has warmed, Lassman’s noticed that the peonies often bloom earlier than they used to.

Lassman: “By the time Memorial Day occurred, a lot of years, it has passed the blooming time.”

His observations are corroborated by research that shows many plants are now flowering earlier and earlier as the climate warms.

Lassman is now looking for other flowers that are likely to bloom on Memorial Days in the future. He thinks it might be time to create a new tradition.

Lassman: “I certainly want to give it a try, and maybe we’ll have a range of plants so that we make sure that something is going to be blooming.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.