I love flowers. I have always loved flowers. One of my favorite stories that my mom tells is that one day, when I was about 3 years old, I stood at the front door watching my dad mowing the yard and sobbing. My mom asked me what was wrong, and I said “Daddy’s mowing over all the flowers.” Now, these were only dandelions, which most adults with even a small amount of pride in their yards detest…but as a little girl, they were glorious, brightly-colored, and beautifully wild and free flowers. To this day, actually, when I see a field of dandelions (perhaps along the side of the road flying down the highway), I am taken aback at the beauty of all those shining yellow faces smiling and waving in the breeze.
I love flowers.
So, when I began reading “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, I knew I had to recommend it to my book club. I had instantly fallen in love with it and simply had to share the joy of this jewel.
This book touched me in a way most books do not. To be fair, I try to only read books that will have even a slight impact on me (why waste time on a poor excuse for a book when there are so many treasures yet to be discovered!?). But the story in this book really, truly, did have an impact on me. It affected how I view flowers, it affected how I think of the ability of people to grow and change, and it affected my view of the foster care system and the children who grow up in it. It brought up questions in me, and it raised my awareness into the problem of the children aging out of the system with little to no resources available to them. I realized how blessed I am to have not only my immediate family supporting me, but my extended family (and friends, of course!) who are also there for me. I have been gifted with terrific people in my life, and though I’ve always felt I appreciated them, this book magnified just how valuable they are to me.
I began to research after finishing the book, and found that Vanessa Diffenbaugh has a network that she runs along with other like-minded, tender-hearted individuals, called the Camellia Network. This organization is serving a need in our nation that we rarely hear about, and I found their work to be both necessary and extraordinary. It got me looking into local versions of this network to see if there were opportunities for me to get involved and give back. I have yet to do anything with this inclination since currently my life isn’t lending itself to being able to make a proper time commitment – but I would really like to get involved at some point in my life. I think I’d really enjoy helping out with a mission such as this.
Another thing this book did was inspire me to research the meaning of flowers that I have a personal affinity for. It was at that point that I discovered this little gem:
I began to look up the flowers that I love, searching out their meanings and the stories behind them. Since I read this in early spring, I decided to plant my balcony garden according to the meanings each of the flowers held. I only chose flowers for my garden that had a meaning that was significant to me in some way. To that end, I planted the following:
Asiatic Lilies: Purity/Resurrection
Zinnias: Thoughts of Absent Friends
Verbenas: Pray for Me
Gerbera Daisies: Vulnerable/Melancholy
(Chocolate) Mint: Gracious
Now, whenever I see my garden growing, I think of the wishes and hopes I had for myself upon planting these flowers with particular meanings. When I think of these flowers, I see both a current state of affairs (the Gerbera daisies, for example), but also a dream for the future (i.e. the lilies and mums). Heck, I even threw in the geraniums, strawberries, and yarrow for good measure! Who doesn’t need a bit of healing, comfort, and promise (for the future)?? This garden has truly been both a work of art, as well as a work of heart, for me this year. I think I’ll continue planting in this fashion in the future, each year coming up with a theme or goal to work toward.
Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it – I love flowers.