Honouring the flowers

One of my favorite sayings is: “Flowers are God’s way of laughing.”

One of my favorite sayings is: “Flowers are God’s way of laughing.”

This may be so, but for all of the gardeners and non-gardeners alike, this incredible variety of cultivated and natural trees, shrubs and plants of different scents, colours, sizes and textures continue to deliver a fantastic floral show every year.

No flowering plants existed during the earlier time of the dinosaurs, but then almost overnight at around 125 million years ago, the first primitive Angiosperms – or flowering plants – arrived, and in great quantities at that.

These plants were all dicots, or plants that have two seedling leaves, a network of veins in their leaves as well as flower parts with four to five petals, and the plant most closely resembling them today is our magnolia tree.

At approximately 65 million years ago, the Tertiary Period began with the dinosaurs departing and the flowers, mammals and insects arriving – signalling a new era on earth.

However, the climate started cooling off around this time, so these plants had to evolve to not only cope with the cold, but to also survive and reproduce themselves. And this is how they did it.

Some plants dropped their leaves with the woody, aerial parts remaining, which we call woody perennials.

Others became herbaceous (relating to or characteristic of an herb as distinguished from a woody plant and is green and leaf-like in appearance or texture) perennials, which died back to the ground each year, but the roots stayed alive to push out new growth in the spring.

Then there’s the annuals that seeded out and died entirely during the cold weather, then relied on a coming spring to germinate their seed; and lastly, plants that formed a herbaceous creation the first season after germinating, which died back to the ground in winter with their root remaining alive.  The following year, the plant put forth new leaves and a flower stalk, which would then set seed and die away like an annual.  These we call biennials.

As we all know, blossoms aren’t just for beauty – they perform the essential function of luring pollinating bats, bugs, butterflies and bees to the plant.

It’s one of the greatest symbiotic (or buddy system) relationships in nature, whereby the plant provides nutritious pollen for the critters, and in exchange, they survive as a species.

In Rodale’s book titled Flowers, the author writes: “The purpose and meaning of flowers for people – no matter what their other functions – have to do with our capacities for higher perceptions.  Flowers are thoroughly communicative of these meanings, speaking to our senses with their scents, shapes and colours, to our minds with their geometries and biology, and to our hearts with their messages of hope and cheer.

“What a miracle of promise is the first blossom of the year – an ordinary little snowdrop, perhaps – that viewed alongside delphiniums or roses would be insignificant, but viewed against nature’s blank canvas is appreciated more than any other flower.”

Flowers have long been part of almost every special occasion in our lives, such as for weddings and worship, memorials, ceremonies and celebrations of all kinds – be it a new baby, new job or a new home.

They’re always a wonderful surprise to brighten someone’s day, can grace a dinner table or front door entrance, be a pretty adornment in your hair and can convey those unspoken words of I care about or love you.

Like the Chinese proverb says: “Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestowed them.”

Whenever I’m lucky enough to go to a tropical place like Hawaii, I love to hotel hop just to see those beautiful open lobbies, which are always resplendent with huge bouquets and giant planters of exotic flowers.

My childhood memories are the scent of my mom’s Peace roses and the old neighbour’s sweet peas, and it always take me instantly back whenever I catch a waft of them in the breeze.

Just for one season only, when I was living in Armstrong years ago, a farmer in the valley converted five acres of alfalfa and grew a field of gorgeous peonies, (which apparently have medicinal qualities), and I have this amazing photo of my horse and I posing (carefully) between the rows of those glorious flowers.

What a shot!

So stick your nose in a rose and breath in those scents that make you close your eyes and say “wow!”

Pause along the pathway at the nature parks and roadsides to admire the wild flowers and flock to a florist shop to feast your eyes on the exciting exotics, looking closely at all their delicate details.

Flowers will always be part of our lives –right up to the end and after – because then we’ll be pushing up the daisies.