This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Madame Van Houtte, widow of the celebrated Louis Van Houtte, recently died at Ghent, in her 71st year. Describing her funeral, a correspondent of the Journal of Horticulture says:
"The funeral took place on the following Saturday, and as it was so different in its ceremonial from-English interments it may be briefly described We must premise that Belgium is a Catholic contry. The entrance hall of the residence was transformed into a chapel, adorned with rich hangings, and the coffin was surrounded with tall tapers, and floral crowns were arranged at the foot. These so-called crowns are offerings of the family and friends, and are really huge wreaths, mostly oval in form, and some three to four feet high. There were a great number of them, and some were extremely beautiful. Nearly every crown had what may be termed a framework of leaves of Cycas revoluta; the base of two leaves are secured together, and the tops being also brought together, form a natural and most elegant oval. When the leaves were not long enough for this, they simply formed a cross in the centre of the crown; but it is quite evident that they are considered indispensable in ceremonies of this kind, and the result is that, in Germany especially, the demand for large plants of this Cycas is always great, as the leaves can be readily sold by those who possess them at remunerative prices.
Attached to each crown is what is termed 'the ribbon.' This is a ribbon of silk, about three inches wide and perhaps four feet long, each ribbon containing some motto in ornamental letters - an expression of regret or sentiment of esteem of the contributor in memory of the deceased. These ribbons are preserved by the family and cherished."