If love were what the rose is,
And I like the leaf,
Our lives would grow together
In sad or singing weather,
Blown fields or flowerful closes,
Green pasture or grey grief;
If love were what the rose is,
And I were like the leaf.
A.C. Swinburne (1837-1909)
On this Valentines’ Day and Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (tomorrow), I am contemplating flowers, gardens, life. So what flower jumps to mind for me is the rose. The traditional bloom of Valentine’s Day. Roses have many meanings; of love and beauty, jealousy, worthiness. Then there is the rich, heady intoxicating scent of roses that brings back an old fashioned nostalgia of rose water and my female ancestors.
And as I contemplate further I think of who we are and how we came to be that person. We are ever changing beings searching for meaning in our lives. So what is that meaning or as I think of it, our essence. Essence has many definitions; substance, spirit, lifeblood, heart, principle, soul, core. It also means perfume; scent.
So I go inward today and look at myself. Will I ever grasp this thing called essence. Maybe, but I think it is the journey in finding it that makes life interesting and worthwhile. We all go on that journey at some point in our lives especially once you turn 50. It is a marking point. Wow, at least half my life is over and what have I to show for it. Am I the person I want to be? Am I doing what I want to do? And the answers are as numerous and ever changing as the stars.
Well then what is at my core? We all have our lists. Mine starts with my husband, friends and family with their unconditional love and acceptance for that is an essential part of my essence. Without them where would I be? But I think another large part of my core lies in the earth; in my oasis called my garden. Wherever I have been I have created this garden. It ebbs and flows with me; it creates bliss in my life.
When I think about gardening, I think about what is the heart and soul of a garden. What is at its core? What is its essence? And I think it is the gardener. The designer who created the garden and the person or persons who lovingly maintain the space keeping its lifeblood flowing. Sometimes this is one in the same person as in my garden. And just as our essence is influenced by our history, inner dialogue and our reality so to are our gardens influenced by these things. We redesign gardens as we redesign our lives.
Gardeners will tell you we find our greatest happiness in our gardens. It is where we find our center. But gardeners are not all the same. We are not cut from the same cloth. While we love all things garden we can be as different as night is to day and it shows in our gardens. Some gardeners are what I call traditionalists who love neatly trimmed hedges and beautiful rows of boxwood, and then there are the naturalists who love the freedom of the meadow. Neither is right or wrong. For the most part, gardeners are accepting of all things called gardens. We find the beauty in the structure or the lack of it; the colors of the flowers or the beauty of the foliage. I love beautiful rows of boxwood and magnificent stately gardens, but it is not part of me to ever grow them. I admire those who have the artistry, patience and effort to create these incredible gardens. But my joy comes from letting nature take her course. It is who I am; what makes me happy.
I think the part I love most about gardens has always been the flowers. These are what I remember from my childhood; from the gardens of my mother, my aunts. They are what I am addicted to the most. All colors, shapes and sizes. And I think it is why when someone asks what is your favorite flower, I cannot answer them. I don’t have a favorite above all others. I have my latest addiction, but that will change as I discover another flower. It’s like being addicted to sugar and walking into a candy store. I want it all, but I will settle for what I have a craving for at the moment.
One of the best little books I have come across recently is, The Language of Flowers, by Catherine Lee. I love learning about the meaning behind the flowers I am drawn to. So on this day of love and flowers, here are the meanings of some of the flowers that make up the essence of my garden. By no means is this an all inclusive list..heaven forbid!!
Pictured above are: daylily (coquetry or being flirty); hyacinth (constancy); lilac (first emotions of love) and phlox (united heart).
Real glory springs from the silent conquest of ourselves. ~
Joseph P. Thompson