Flower Power

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The last month of the year is bleak and barren in most parts of the country, but one step inside of a garden center, retail shop or even grocery store may make you question the calendar. December is a time when many of us add greenery, plants and flowers to our interiors as part of holiday decorating or we give them as gifts. Some of us even put trees inside of our homes this time of year. December is a good time to salute flora in all of its glory and wonder why in the world we don’t do this all year round?

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a 3 day seminar with international floral designer, educator and speaker Rene van Rems. An affable Dutch transplant with an easy laugh, he is also an accomplished author with several books on the art of floral design under his belt. You may think that someone with all those accolades for his design work would be centered on the aesthetics of what he does. Much to my great surprise, we spent most of our time talking about the spirituality and healing powers of flowers. Although we use very different tools in our design work we share a common philosophy of healing and balancing ones self by putting beauty, in all of it’s forms, in our environments.

I’ll openly admit that I’ve had a flower addiction most of my life and I am thankful there is no support group to break me of this habit. There are few things I find more pleasing for my eyes to land on and I know how different a space feels with an infusion of natural beauty. When I was first married I declared to my (then) new husband that my weekly bundles of flowers were non negotiable. Given a choice between buying food or flowers, I’d happily spend my last pennies on the latter. These many years later I still make a habit of flowers or plants in almost every room of my house. I love the vase of flowers on my nightstand being the first and last thing I see each day and I know the stems in the guest rooms quietly say welcome.

When we think about it, we realize how much of our cultures, our religions, our metaphors, our artwork, our symbolism, and countless other aspects of our lives intersect with the botanical world. They mark our private moments and public celebrations. They are used to say I love you, I’m sorry or I’m thinking of you. So powerful a presence are they that they are offered as symbols of welcoming joy when we enter the world and signs of our sorrow when we leave it.

Flowers and plants have a vibrational energy that is palpable (just ask anyone who works around plants and flowers) and offer that energy to us to internalize and heal. Shaman and healers have known of the healing powers of plants and their essences for centuries. As an interior designer, I love using flowers and greenery in the home. They can infuse the element of scent to a room or add height, texture or visual mass and interest much more than a mindless or space filling accessory. They can also passively act as dividers of space or hide an unsightly imperfection. Or they can give interest and form where there is none to work with. While cut flowers have a short window of time to be enjoyed finding them available at lower have made the investment about the same as 2 or 3 cups of coffee from Starbucks. Many varieties of plants are relatively inexpensive when you factor in longevity. I’ve had some of my plants for years and some I think of as expendable, traded in for newer models when their blooms have faded.

Many say that flowers and plants are a luxury. But I contend that anything that uplifts and adds beauty to a space is a necessity. Adding flora to our homes is not just something we should do on special occasions or holidays. Cultivating and infusing things of beauty into our lives should be habit. I always contend that people that see beauty in their homes train the eye to look for it in the world. Wouldn’t people be less hostile, less depressed or less grumpy if they saw the beauty in their world? And what effect would there be as those effects rippled outward?