The power of flowers

My friend Jamie recently netted a bounty of beautiful blooms from her local farm in Granby, Connecticut and sent me some snaps of various floral arrangements she had put together.

It is the season in many parts of the country for short-lived posies to rear their gorgeous heads into brilliant colors of the rainbow.

During a recent stroll down the main streets of Staunton, my sister and I came across two young women passing out small colorful bouquets from their flower farm. They were preparing to host an open farm day and so were using ‘sweaty’ equity to garner interest in the event while standing on a hot and humid corner of the city.

So intrigued, I drove down a dusty road behind Shenandoah Regional Airport in countryish’ Stuarts Draft one early Saturday morning to check out the farm operated by the same said sisters with a passion for all blooming things.

Poets have long extolled the wonderful features of flowers, and some of the species’ symbolism -either by type or color – is known to most school children. Roses seem to get a lot of press (way too much for my taste) for their showoffy beauty and great irony of thorns nestling such gorgeous fragrancy:

The tulip is a courtly queen,
Whom, therefore, I will shun;
The cowslip is a country wench,
The violet is a nun; –
But I will woo the dainty rose,
The queen of everyone. 
(Thomas Hood – oh brother!)

But back at the farm, something these sisters also make unique in the US are its frogs. I don’t mean the web-footed, “ribbit” variety, but the small spiked “bed of nails” florists use to hold bouquets in place. Harmony Harvest farm is the only place in the country that still makes these metal floral arranging devices by hand.

Traced back to the 16th century, some believe they are so-named because they sit in water like frogs (Ok, so water hippos doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue!).

Even without the benefit of the spiked floral holders, Jamie had made short work of her bouquet, and quickly transformed them into several smaller arrangements using vases and pots she had around the house. I enjoyed seeing her photos. It made me nostalgic for my Connecticut friends, but also made me feel included in her day.

When I moved to Staunton, I had to leave most of my house plants in the care of a friend since I could not cram them into my car for the journey. I had always thought plants were a safer, longer lasting bet than flowers. However, Jamie’s wildflower mix has since stitched together a small “thought” garland with my recent day trip to the flower farm and has me thinking about the importance of impermanence.

To paraphrase what one of the owners of the Virginia flower farm had said during the farm day floral demonstration, don’t think that cut flowers are sad because they have a shorter life span than their potted cousins. They’re not supposed to last forever.

Those wise women farmers know something my good friend Jamie knows. It’s why she shared her flowers with me one day via text message across the miles that separate us. In the words of author John Harrigan, “Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.”

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