Called upon for more than just being beautiful, flowers transcend frivolity. They demand care. They teach us about shape, volume, color, texture, botany, balance, and the passage of time. They transform our tables, homes, and relationships. They reward perfectionism and punish indolence. They illustrate our memories. They communicate for us. They measure the years. They deal in grace, change, and nostalgia.
I started documenting my blooms several years ago. Now, paradoxically, I view them as both symbols of impermanence and expressions of permanence. Today, when I reminisce, it is often about the flowers that marked an occasion. There were those I arranged late into the night, out of hundreds my father and I brought home from his prodigious seventieth birthday celebration. Or, on a certain February fourteenth, a dreamy bouquet starring anemones, compensation for the flowers I wished I’d gotten, but didn’t. Last year, one unforgettable rose refused to wilt for two weeks, its shine not nearly enough to displace the pain of losing my father.
This month, I have discovered grape hyacinths. In time, I’ll find out what I’m really documenting as I snap pictures of these tiny cobalt bells in their crowded fruitlike clusters.