I am recovering from a fever. Tulip Fever. Seduced by their charms and captivated by their colors, petals, fringes, and the brief burst of beauty heralding the arrival of spring, I despair from the longing to possess these flowers in my garden.
Here’s something worth celebrating, and it’s not National Walk to Work Day (April 1) or Lima Bean Respect Day (April 20). Instead, it’s a yearlong celebration of the first American Landscape Architect, Frederick Law Olmstead.
“When it is Spring, it is best to believe in something,”* and I believe in celebrating flowers.
Fortunately, I am not alone in this belief. All around the world, flower festivals, home garden tours, and flower shows offer an immersive experience in color, fragrance, form, and design, all in celebration of flowers. I’ve been seeking out these experiences for years, I encourage you to set out on travel adventures to experience these extraordinary events celebrating flowers.
Valentine’s Day is my favorite celebration, and yes, I know it isn’t a holiday, it is a marketing event. While it seems so commercial today, I am surprised to discover it has always been about marketing! In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury needed to sell more chocolates to use his company’s cocoa butter surplus. Victorians were great fans of Valentine’s Day; they expressed their love in elaborate greeting cards (postage was affordable.) Chocolate became available to the masses (sugar had become cheaper), so Cadbury created a moment of marketing magic, the heart-shaped chocolate box. This beautiful box was sold as a dual-purpose gift because after your sweetheart ate the chocolates, she could use the heart-shaped box to store love letters and romantic mementos.1 In the US, Hershey chocolates made their famous kisses in 1907 continuing the romantic alliance.2
Heading into a new year the last thing any of us wanted was another round of virus vexation. Most of us have done everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We’ve stayed home in our gardens (if we are lucky enough to have one), we’ve worn our masks, gotten our shots, and yet here we are still on the bumpy road of uncertainty, restrictions, and canceled plans.
Though butterflies possess all five senses, “Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.
People are like that as well.”
Visiting gardens gives me so many ideas, and now that my dwarf jacaranda has hit a rough patch (the top fried in the summer sun.) I realized I could use one of those ideas to help it stay in my garden. I’ve seen this done in two gardens, Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia and Cantigny Park in Illinois.
I gave up growing roses in my Arizona garden years ago. I found them demanding and disappointing. I virtually stopped buying cut roses as well since their life span seemed incredibly brief. But I have just returned from a trip to Ecuador, where roses reign supreme, and I have an entirely different view of the world of roses.
There will always be work to do in a garden, but why create a bit of heaven on earth if we don’t occasionally sit and feast our eyes on the beauty right in front of us?
This fantastic spider lily (crinum) grows in my garden. The plant is lush and green most of the year. I serendipitously planted it in just the right place, so it grows nearly 5’ tall and erupts in a fireworks-like display of white blooms in summer.