Why Flowers Matter ~ 9 Tips On Appreciating Them

– Posted in: Garden Musings

Do you remember the first time a flower grabbed your heart? Did you touch its petals, breathe in its intoxicating scent, perhaps look at it from a distance, and then walk forward to observe it from a closer range? Did you ever ponder over why flowers matter?

How To Appreciate Flowers

Peonies in Front Yard of Southwinds Drive Garden

The Birth of Flowers

In a National Geographic Articleauthored by Michael Klesisus, he writes that  flowers first appeared over 130 millions years ago, during the Cretaceous period. In geologic times, this is relatively recent. Klesisus says that” if all Earth’s history were compressed into an hour, flowering plants would exist for only the last 90 seconds. But once they took firm root about 100 million years ago, they swiftly diversified in an explosion of varieties that established most of the flowering plant families of the modern world.”

How An Allium Matters

Allium up close

“Today flowering plant species outnumber by twenty to one those of ferns and cone-bearing trees, or conifers, which had thrived for 200 million years before the first bloom appeared. As a food source flowering plants provide us and the rest of the animal world with the nourishment that is fundamental to our existence.

In the words of Walter Judd, a botanist at the University of Florida, “If it weren’t for flowering plants, we humans wouldn’t be here.” “Flowers were a  dramatic change that represents one of the great moments in the history of life on the planet. ” Eventually the first flowers reached a tipping point and the earth became filled with a riot of color and scent all over the planet.

Flowering Plants Played An Essential Role In The Evolution of Our Species

Eckhart Tolle, in his book, A New Earth, writes about how “those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of our species – humans. And how we would be drawn to them.” “As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival.”

Peonies That Have Meaning

Peonies in Southwinds Drive Garden

“They provided inspiration to countless artist, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers, and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a ‘silent sermon’ once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it,”  says Tolle.

 Earliest Memories of Flowers Can Be A Profound Experience

My earliest memory was when my family, in our blue impala chevrolet, pulled into the long driveway of our new home. It was a large, white clapboard house with a stately weeping willow taking center stage on the front yard. I was an 8 year old girl who had just flown thousands of miles from Dallas, Texas to Rochester, New York.

I was taken aback by what looked like to me – as a child – a rambling mansion. When I opened the backdoor of the car, with my gaze still focused on the beauty of where we were going to live, I felt my leg brush up again something. I looked down to see a few large purplish-magenta petals tickling me.

My eyes went straight to the flower in its entirety- a brazen, outstanding peony in full bloom. In a split second, I saw that there weren’t  just a few blooms but at least a dozen peony bushes lining the strip of land that separated the neighbor’s driveway from ours.

Peonies That Offer Beauty

Peonies In Southwinds Drive Garden

I was mesmerized. I crouched down, put my nose up to the flower, and inhaled deeply. Its scent was intoxicating. That moment was the beginning of my love affair with peonies.

Cut peonies became the mainstay of my mother’s late spring bouquets, along with lilacs, which quickly became my favorite flowering bush. I loved nothing more than when she took out a cut crystal vase from the cupboard and asked me to cut some peonies and arrange them in the vase. With a sharp scissors in hand – I didn’t even know that pruners existed back then – I surveyed which ones I’d include in my living work of art.

Throughout the years, I experimented with mono-and multi colored combinations, buds ready to burst open, and those in robust bloom. The peonies, sitting on our dining room table with the late afternoon sun streaming through the bay window, came into their glory at the tale end of their bloom –  after a few petals had fallen on to the table. It was because of the row of peonies lining the driveway of our home, 54 Chadbourne Street, that a door was opened which allowed me to experience a deep love and appreciation of the beauty of flowers

 9 Tips On How To Appreciate Flowers

1. Buy one flower. Put in a place where you can sit and gaze at it.

Take time to meditate on it and say~ “I am beautiful – like the flower’. Use that phrase as your mantra throughout the day.

2. Create a sacred space. It should be a space that you can claim as your own and have some privacy.

Place some flowers in a few vases. I like to use slender, small containers that  hold only one or two flowers. Add some candles or other things that have meaning to you ~ perhaps some stones, shells, a piece of drift wood,  pine cones, a small figure ~ anything that grabs your heart and will help transform this area into a sacred one.

This space is your altar. Meditate for 10 minutes a day or more on anything that will give you a feeling of peace and gratefulness. One of my favorite ways of beginning a meditation is to spend time focusing on each object on the altar and saying ‘Thank you God for creating the beauty that has been bestowed on me.”

3. Buy some flowering houseplants and place in different rooms.

Check them daily to note their growth and their life cycle from budding to full blooms to deadheading.

4. Develop a  nurturing relationship with plants.

When you water, deadhead the flowers, clip off dead leaves, and send love to the plant. Touch each plant with love and compassion. Take a few moments to be grateful for the beauty and ‘nutrition for your soul’ that it has brought into your life.

5. Plant flowering seeds outside.

When buying seed packets, take time to select the flowers that speak to you. Sowing them in the earth and watching them grow to maturity and then burst into bloom is magical. Since I was a child, my favorite seeds have been sunflowers. Every year when I open the packet, I feel like a kid who has just been given a gift that I can’t wait to unwrap.

6. Give cut flowers to friends, neighbors, or a stranger on the street.  Their glee and huge smile will tell you how this one act of kindness has made their day an extraordinary one.

7. Treat yourself to cut flowers each week. Don’t use the excuse that it costs too much money. I’ve been known to buy a dozen magnificent roses at my local grocery store for $5.99. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are also good sources. Again, take your time selecting flowers. Let your instincts tell you which ones are meant to come home with you.

8. Slow down and spend a few moments each day to notice their changes. Appreciate their imperfection and the cycle of their lives.  Doing so can be a powerful tool in accepting who you are, the stages of your life cycle, and ultimately death.

9. Observe Flowering Plants, Bushes, and Trees outside. Drink in their beauty and give thanks for their glory. Carry the vision of them throughout your day.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. Tell us about your first experience with flowers that left an imprint on you. If you enjoyed this article, please share with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Doing so helps my thoughts reach a larger readership. Thanks so much. With gratitude, Fran

Fran Sorin

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender.

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michaele anderson November 15, 2013, 8:33 am

This post was one of the most interesting I’ve ever read…positively freaky fascinating about what a short time flowers have been part of the earth’s eco-system. Thanks so much for passing that info along.

Fran Sorin November 15, 2013, 8:52 am

Michele – Am glad you enjoyed. I learned alot when doing the research on it- and yes, their appearance on earth and then their ability to survive is magical ~ as are the flowers themselves. Thanks for chiming in.
With gratitude – Fran

Robín November 15, 2013, 9:00 am

“”Do you remember the first time a flower grabbed your heart?””

Yes. But not when i was a kid or an adolescent or a middle adult. Times when i used to think -and i was wrong, of course- things were trivial, that what is, is. It´s now, when i´m 59 when i feel amazed, so many times, with the elegant *living economy* of plants. Not only flowers. Is it too late ?

Mary Yee November 15, 2013, 10:36 am

Thank you for this lovely post. I fear some people think that a love for flowers is a frivolous thing. It’s good to be reminded how important they are to our very existence and how their beauty revitalizes us. I share your love of peonies and grow many varieties. In their season, I enjoy giving them away. A single stem can convey much joy.

Mary November 15, 2013, 12:03 pm

I can’t remember my first plant, always had them around the house and home. My Mother and Grandmother were always gardening and cutting to bring into the home, during the good weather. Continue this tradition with my home, as have most of my sisters. I love that many flowers are edible and the wonder sents they bring to the garden, home, environment.

Elle November 15, 2013, 7:02 pm

As someone who has a love affair with flowers, now I can understand why Fran. What a great post, such a fascinating history.

I’ve noticed how our geraniums flourish when I’m loving them.

Sheila Schultz November 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

When I was a child we moved to a new house and our neighbor was Mr. Powell. He was a large man, a retired farmer that loved to sit on his porch swing and watch the world pass his front door. He was my best friend and confidant. Every spring, he would ring our doorbell several times a week, after mom returned from a long day at work. She would open the door and be greeted by this gentle giant with an arm full of fragrant peonies and lilacs. She had to buy more vases. In writing this note I can still see his smile, feel his love and smell those beautiful flowers.
Thanks for bringing this memory back to me, Fran.

Rita November 16, 2013, 9:56 pm

After reading this post which was so interesting, I requested your book from my local library system and am reading it now. I plan to recommend it to my garden club members. Thank you!

Nik November 18, 2013, 3:03 am

How wonderful your blog! I found it today and I immediately added to my blog you will not miss your post.
My blog (and my garden) in Italy are just a few km from Turin.
If you want to come and visit him. See you soon

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:13 am

Nik – Thanks for your kind words. I just got onto your site – and WOW – I love those roosters. How did you know that Italy is one of my favorite places in the world – you know the dream -a house in Umbria with a magnificent garden ~ Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:16 am

Rita – I’m glad that you found it interesting. I’m glad that your library has a copy of it. And thanks for recommending it to your garden club members. If you have a book club, I would be more than happy to give a talk via skype – about the creative process in the garden. Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:23 am

Dear Sheila -
Thanks so much for sharing your memories. I had tears in my eyes as I read your story. How lucky you were to have Mr. Powell as a best friend and confidant. It’s by no accident that he was a gentle, generous, sensitive gardener/farmer. Isn’t it amazing how one person can offer such a acts of kindness in a quiet way? He brought additional beauty and love into your life – and I’m assuming your mother’s. What a gift! And of course – those magnificent flowers – sigh- what could be more beautiful? You’ve made my day Sheila! Fondly, Fran

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:27 am

Elle – It looks like Prince Charles was on target when he talked about communicating with (talking) with our flowers. And people called him crazy. I have witnessed sick flowers come back to life when they were given soothing words, a soft tough from the person who nurtured them. Elle, can you imagine life without flowers? With your loving and open soul, I would guess that all of your flowers flourish. xxoo

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:34 am

Mary-
How wonderful that you have 2 generations of woman who garden! You must have learned so much about gardening through osmosis. It is touching and beautiful that you and your sisters continue this tradition Appreciating and nurturing flowers is one of the privileges we, as humans, have. Mary, I’ve never eaten nasturtiums or pansies – although I’ve decorated food with them – but love the smells of lavender and other flowers. Thanks so much for sharing your memories. Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:38 am

Dear Mary -
It’s gardeners like you who are truly the beacons of light when it comes to sharing the beauty and meaning of flowers. Each time you give a friend some peonies, you are sharing the beauty and deep meaning that they offer us. I love your sentence – ‘a single stem can convey much joy’. Your words are beautiful – thank you Mary for sharing them. Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin November 18, 2013, 11:43 am

Dear Robin -
NO – it’s never too late. To the contrary. The fact that you are amazed with the elegant ‘living economy’ (love that phrase) of plants is a gift within itself. And perhaps – because your awareness and appreciation has been kindled at this phase in your life may allow you to experience them in a more robust and deeper way. Even if you were on your death bed (I don’t want to sound morbid) and experienced a revelation about the glorious nature of flowers and other plants, it wouldn’t be too late. Thanks for connecting and sharing your feelings. Warmly, Fran

Jayme B November 19, 2013, 10:31 am

Beautiful, thoughtful inspiring as always Fleur Fran!

Blissfull Joy!

Jayme

Patrick November 30, 2013, 10:40 am

My grandparents had a farm on the edge of the Australian Outback. It was a rugged place but they loved their roses and had a garden of sixteen. With only heavy frosts and no blackspot to deal with, they had huge trunks and with dis-budded stems, they blew the mind of this young pup from as long as I can remember. My grandmother romanced the story of ‘Peace’ (as well documented in the book, For the Love of a Rose by Antonia Ridge) and the story of the Meilland family but my favorite was the dark red ‘Papa Meilland’. In my minds eye, today they looked as big as softballs. All the colors of the roses seemed more intense when set against the burnt red soil of the Outback.Thanks for allowing me to refresh some glorious memories, Fran?

Landscaping Coventry December 5, 2013, 5:18 am

As someone who has a love affair with flowers, What a great post, such a fascinating history.