I do like receiving flowers every now and then, although I’ve signed an informal agreement with my significant other and with most of my close friends: a protocol that states there are other (more sustainable and more rewarding) priorities to check before investing in temporary bouquets of acceptable, nice-smelling death. Of course I sometimes fantasize about enormous packs of white tulips simply existing on my living room table, but let’s not get into that.
One thing that started bugging me lately is this new custom of offering potted flowers. Because, you see, potted flowers don’t come with the possibility of being forgotten. Instead, they come with more unwanted, unnecessary responsibilities. One *must* keep them alive. Because, unlike occasional bouquets, people tend to not forget about them (oh, but you do).
And fast forward, a few weeks later, you meet that generous friend or relative again for a glass of wine, and you have a nice time together, a very nice time until they suddenly remember:
and how is the [insert rather ugly plant name in Latin] doing?
A very special moment when you turn into a very thirsty plant yourself. There it is: the ghost of one more long-forgotten guilt monster has been awakened.
Truth is, the potted flower is (always) gone. Long gone. Dead. Ejected from life. Not in a better place either, because in this craptacular country we don’t even recycle. So the ugly empty plastic pot has embarked towards destroying the planet. And that’s not on me, because I did not even want it in the first place. So please stop buying them. For me.
However, I am looking forward to taming this old rage. So I started dreaming more and more about owning a small garden (is this a common dream once you really step into your 30s?). Dreaming got a lil more palpable when I also stumbled upon this title in the bookshop a couple of months ago and decided to take it home. It was love at first sight, but I must confess I did feel sort of like how criminals must feel whenever they start looking for redemption opportunities.
I started reading it and it’s so entertaining. Oh, yes, and the monochrome illustrations are in perfect synchronicity with the text, as well.
One of my favorite quotes so far is this:
‟Oh, this is a nice little purple flower,” says a layman, to which the gardener replies slightly offended: ‟Don’t you know that that is Petrocallis pyrenaica?” For the gardener has a great faith in names; a flower without a name, to put it platonically, is a flower without a metaphysical idea; in short, it has not a right and absolute reality. A flower without a name is a weed; a flower with a Latin name is somehow raised to a state of dignity. If a nettle grows on your bed, label it ‟Urtica dioica,” and you will respect it; you will even loosen the soil for it, and manure it with saltpetre.”
It’s just nice to remember and laugh a little at how this specialized pride transforms us, no matter what we come to master at a certain point in our lives: gardening, cooking, writing, dieting, photographing, drawing, curating, and so on. Again: don’t forget to laugh at yourself. It’s healthy.