Humans alter the world around us. Everything we touch and change to fit into our world becomes an artifact. We travel on, and it becomes a sign post along our trail. These sign posts tell stories about our past and catalog our efforts to understand the world.
Take a simple bouquet of flowers. Until lately, most bouquets you met were stiff with industrially-produced flowers airlifted from South America. Now, in a natural return to what is best, people are again seeking out the freshness, fragrance and seasonality of locally-grown flowers.
The whole story behind this sea-change is an amazing history lesson involving international politics, the drug trade, and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” farmer heroes (you can find it in Flower Confidential, by Amy Stewart). But it’s just one of thousands of stories in a flower bouquet, that simple-seeming artifact.
I grow flowers. They surprise and amaze me every day. Tulips were once fragrant and wheat dark blue? Bumblebees sleep headfirst in flowers? Apples and roses are relatives? The ancient spice trade; the sciences of fragrance and color; human-animal interactions; so many more stories. When I should be busy cutting and bunching flowers, I’m often standing in a field googling facts on my phone.
Flowers are not just pretty faces. They are a window into the natural world and our own culture and history. And now that flowers have burst the industrial boundaries of durability and convenience, to be anything beautiful that adventurous local growers can raise and cut, a bouquet can be an encyclopedia in your hands. I’ll be sharing the stories I’m learning here. Read on!