Picture of a daffodil from a post about flowers from the bunkaryudo humor blog.

Flowers Grew on Me

I never thought much of flowers when I was a boy. Other than the occasional enhanced interrogation of a daisy for the purposes of gathering romantic intelligence, I had no real use for them. It wasn’t that I actively disliked them, but rather that I simply couldn’t figure out what on earth they were good for. I had a lot of time for their big brothers, trees, but with the best will in the world, it just isn’t that easy to climb a daffodil.

 

Adults often told me that flowers were breathtakingly beautiful or overwhelmingly exquisite, but when I looked intently at, say, a buttercup—my head cocked to one side and my finger on my chin—my own personal level of whelming never got anywhere near over. Flowers looked okay, but throughout my childhood, I was seldom moved emotionally by anything unless it was served with ice cream or covered in a chocolate coating.

 

As far as I could see, flowers were little more than petal-laden bribes to insects, and I couldn’t help noticing I wasn’t an insect. Unsurprisingly, I was more excited by bribes aimed directly at my own species, such as strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

 

Indifferent as I was to the blooms themselves, however, I was much more enthusiastic about the types of place where flowers were often found. A grassy expanse covered in buttercups and clover, for example, was a thrilling place to run around with a jam jar and try to catch bees, butterflies or hoverflies. Riverbanks and the margins of ponds were even better. Yes, there were flowers to be found there, but I preferred poking around among the stems trying to coax froglets to jump into my hands.

 

Flower-strewn hedgerows were another place where all sorts of wonderful things could be found—hairy caterpillars, snails, and spiders, to name but a few. The creatures in all these environments were endlessly fascinating. Slugs moved around on slime—how cool was that! Toads caught things with their tongues. Spiders could construct amazing webs. But all the time in the background were flowers, seemingly not doing anything beyond grinning inanely.

 

When I entered adulthood, I realized flowers did have uses after all. Women seemed to be particularly fond of them for some odd reason, so they became a convenient and easily purchased token of affection for any female member of my immediate circle. As I got a little more sophisticated in their use, it became clear that blooms could even convey messages. In other words, I could say it with flowers, as the slogan goes. A bouquet of golden peonies, pink roses, poppies, dahlias, and maiden-hair fern, for example, said, “Congratulations on your wedding!” Three tired looking tulips in a plastic bag said, “I remembered it was your birthday seconds before the supermarket closed.” And of course, the messages could go both ways. Nothing said, “Don’t forget next year!” like a tulip stem rammed up a nostril.

 

As I’ve become older, I’ve gradually begun to appreciate flowers for themselves rather than as a kind of glorified email for use on special occasions. In part, this is because I’ve now lived in the city for many decades. Indeed, since I’m in an apartment building, I don’t even have a garden. As is so often the case in life, I didn’t appreciate what I had until I no longer had it. My wife and children, on the other hand, grew up in the city, so do not feel the loss of connection to the natural world in quite the same way. The only real knowledge my children have of flowers is through playing a video game called Plants Versus Zombies. I don’t have the heart to tell them that real gardening is rather different. For one thing, it doesn’t usually involve bazookas.

 

Another reason why my attitude has changed is probably as a side-effect of middle age. No longer able to keep pace with caterpillars and slugs, I have had to settle instead for any parts of the natural world that still move more slowly than I do. On those occasions when I am able to make it to a park, I’m relieved to find I still retain sufficient speed and agility to catch up with clumps of flowers before a change of season withers their blooms.

 

But perhaps the biggest single change of all has been my slow but steady development of greater appreciation for shades and contrasts, hues and color tones. There may be all sorts of possible explanations for this phenomenon, but my own best guess is that this is yet another response to the passing years. Now that my hands have the sensitivity of boxing gloves and my range of hearing has restricted to the point where I can just about catch an air raid siren approximately three inches from my head, I’m fast running out of sensory options.

 

© Bun Karyudo and the BunKaryudo Blog (2016)

(All Rights Reserved)

 

 

NOTE: Today’s post is a slightly rewritten and expanded version of one that has already appeared on my blog. My apologies to those who have seen parts of it before, although it was from the very early days, so I don’t think there will be many of you! I’d have preferred to write something from scratch, but there was just no time, so I thought a half-new post was probably better than no post at all.

157 replies
  1. patriciaruthsusan
    patriciaruthsusan says:

    I enjoyed this post, Bun, as it was new to me. My mother used to spend hours in her flower garden but I know little of the different kinds. I’ve never had much time to plant things outside. I appreciate looking at other people’s gardens, though. 😀 — Suzanne

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I’m in much the same place, Suzanne. I like flowers (nowadays), but I don’t know much about them. I think I used the name of all of the seven or so flower species I know in my post. 😀

      Reply
  2. YellowCable
    YellowCable says:

    I think you remember your feelings of your young kid time so well. You reminded me of the same feeling toward flowers too and I was the same more interested in bugs, toads, slugs, millipedes, butterflies, spiders, lizards, dogs, cats, mouses etc. than flowers but trees. I had great fun with trees than flowers. As you did, I was more interested in anatomy of flowers than their beauty. Then thing changed as you grow up. Now, I like them a whole lot more, their delicate shapes, colors etc. just a joy to see them. Nice post!

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Oh, millipedes were great! I’d forgotten about those. As for dogs, it really depended. I was bitten twice as a child, so I tended to be extremely cautious around unknown ones. I was far less cautious around unknown millipedes, but then, they were so much smaller. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Ann Coleman
    Ann Coleman says:

    I’m glad you posted this, because I haven’t read it before. (Or if I have, I don’t remember it, which just goes to show there is one advantage to the memory loss we experience as we age: we can enjoy everything as if it were new!) But I agree on the message of flowers. Early in our marriage, my husband always bought me nice flowers on our anniversary and my birthday, but he purchased them from the discount shop next to the cemetery. Talk about a mixed message!

    Reply
  4. maryannniemczura
    maryannniemczura says:

    In Germany, I always admired the window boxes filled with lovely flowers. Your last paragraph says it all for me. I always loved the colors, shapes and textures of the flowers in nature. Oh, I also collected my share of the creatures as well. Blossoms picked by little hands go in our small vases in strategic places in the house. It is always calming to gaze at fresh cut flowers. The tradition in Germany is to present the host or birthday child with a bouquet of flowers which are much more reasonably priced that florists in the US. I enjoy flowers in our gardens as well as the vegetables and herbs. Working with the soil is a great way to relieve stress. Daisies were always a favorite of young girls who plucked off pieces of the blossom as they said “he loves me; he loves me no.” Whatever they ended with decided their fate with boyfriends.

    Reply
  5. Robert Parker Teel
    Robert Parker Teel says:

    I like flowers as much as the next guy-who-never-really-read-the-assigned-Emily-Dickinson-poems. I guess everyone knows there’s a strong link between scent and memory, but for me, the really deep, primal reaction, is brought on by the fragrance of fried chicken and pot roast, much more intense than any romantic reverie based on jasmine and roses.
    In one of my favorite poems, Kubla Khan gets past the blossoms of many an incense-bearing tree, damsel with a dulcimer, etc. to get to the good part — eating honeydew and milk.
    In English Lit class, when Hamlet’s girlfriend came downstream, singing gibberish and sinking under all those symbolic flowers, the rosemary did trigger a remembrance, but for me, it was of roast lamb, not floral perfumed romance, and I wondered if ol’ Ophelia would be ticked off, if we caught a couple tasty trout for dinner, while we were fishing her out of the creek. She had a lot of pansies, too, perfectly edible, we could decorate the salad I guess.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Oh, I’m sure Ophelia wouldn’t have minded waiting for a bit. It’s not like she was doing anything else. I’d have hated going for a meal at the Macbeth house, though. With all that handwashing beforehand, the oatmeal surprise* or whatever would be stone cold before we got to it.

      *Oatmeal surprise is also called simply oatmeal. The surprise is that there’s nothing but oatmeal in it.

      Reply
  6. adsunsri
    adsunsri says:

    I really admire your versatality in virtually writing about anything and everything from refrigerators to flowers, from animate to inanimate with consummate ease and aplomb!

    Reply
  7. Ellie P.
    Ellie P. says:

    Bun, very enjoyable piece, and with a nod to nostalgia, even moving, I would say. I’m going to send it to my sister-in-law who’s an expert at ikebana. She rose to the level of president of the Montreal ikebana chapter. She would like this post. Onward!

    Reply
  8. Diane
    Diane says:

    Based on the title of your piece, I was eager to read about how flowers managed to gain a toehold to actually grow on you. Alas, I found no reference to flowers on your person. Not even a red rose poking out of a buttonhole.

    Still, I was not disappointed by yet another entertaining read by the incomparable Bun Karyudo.

    Reply
  9. carine
    carine says:

    Bun, I can’t possibly say how other women feel-but for me getting flowers just make me feel good. They have happy colors, nice aromas and brighten up an ordinary day.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I loved dinosaurs as a kid. I remember my elementary school teacher telling me that one theory for their disappearance was that the appearance of flowering plants had led to them accidentally poisoning themselves. (This was a few years before Walter and Luis Alvarez put forward their now widely accepted asteroid hypothesis.)

      Anyway, I just checked Google and discovered that flowering plants appeared 130 million years ago, and of course the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. That’s an awfully long time to have a stomachache. I suspect the scientists must also have noticed this tiny discrepancy.

      I was about six or seven at the time to teacher told me this theory, so I think I may not quite have grasped some of the more sophisticated parts of the argument.

      Reply
  10. Minuscule Moments
    Minuscule Moments says:

    The primary purpose of a flower is reproduction. Since the flowers are the reproductive organs of plant, they mediate the joining of the sperm, contained within pollen, to the ovules — contained in the ovary. Pollination is the movement of pollen from the anthers to the stigma.

    Found this for you on wiki, thought it was a tad blunt but I guess nature is all about reproduction, as is life in general. Happy flower reproduction spotting.
    Kath

    Reply
  11. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    Your poor, poor children 🙂
    I can’t imagine growing up without a garden, tadpoles to catch and lizards to look for. Climbing trees or making ‘cubby’ houses was a treasured part of childhood.
    Inner city dweller that I am in old(er) age, I’ve always lived next to and 5 minutes walk from parks, gardens and a river.
    Now flowers………they’re something I valued indoors in my working life, but still treasure outdoors in retirement.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Having a park nearby is great! Although we don’t have that, my children are not completely without access to the natural world. In summer, for example, they have plenty of opportunity to observe mosquitoes at close quarters. 😀

      Reply
  12. Ankur Mithal
    Ankur Mithal says:

    Glad that “Flowers grew on me” did not result in chrysanthemums sprouting from your nostrils and lilies out of your ears. Anyway, I hope the age-related developments have not come at the expense of primal sensory organ activators like chocolate.

    Reply
  13. scifihammy
    scifihammy says:

    I haven’t read your previous post and this one gives me a new way to look at flowers. 🙂 I also much preferred trees as a kid, to flowers that grown ups cooed over. As I have “black” not “green” fingers, anything blooming in my garden does so in spite of me, rather than because of. Still, it does bring the birds to the garden, which I do enjoy.
    You know, you could always try a window box, if you wanted ready to hand flowers, fresher than ‘old wilting end of day’ supermarket tulips. It would save your poor nostrils! 😀

    Reply
  14. Sharon Bonin-Pratt
    Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

    I’m with you on trying to keep pace with the rapid growth of flowers – just watching them race through the season leaves me breathless. Any more speed from them and I’ll have to take up watching plastic deteriorate. You do make me laugh, Bun, and that is something I do at warp speed.

    Reply
  15. Sue Slaght
    Sue Slaght says:

    Never any need to apologize Bun. We could read your posts over and over and wonder at your talent. As to your slowing pace with age I’m quite certain I’m significantly older than you. Meet you at the caterpillar race. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Binky
    Binky says:

    I didn’t know you enjoyed insects and animals and nature when you were young. So many these days don’t get that opportunity, and we’re becoming less and less connected to nature and all the incredible things it has to offer.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Yep, nature was my thing when I was young, Binky. My favorite subjects at school were biology and English and I watched every nature documentary I could find on TV. With a background like that, I guess it was inevitable I would one day sit behind a desk and live in a city.

      Reply
      • Binky
        Binky says:

        You seem to have put your English skills to very good use, but your nature side has been rather neglected. Maybe one day you can move out to the country, or at least have some excursions to some wild places.

        Reply
  17. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Sounds like a great childhood, especially around the ponds. We have one next door and it’s such a joy when the wild roses are blooming and the frogs start hollering when they announce spring has arrived.

    Reply
  18. Jason
    Jason says:

    I suppose we all have a profound connection to the world of plants and flowers, summed up in the expression ‘pushing up the daisies’. Our fertile minds eventually end up as plant fertiliser, creating whole new generations of beautiful blooms for future kids to ignore/trample. The circle of life..

    Reply
  19. Jay
    Jay says:

    Glorified email – that might be the coolest thing I’ve ever heard a flower called in my life.
    Also – say it with flowers – YOU came up with that??? Dude, I’m impressed.
    Can you try “say it with cheese” next?

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Ah, say it with flowers isn’t mine, sadly. I saw it on an advertising campaign years ago. Say it with cheese is new, though. I think you have some potential there. In fact, I’d rather my family and friends said things to me with cheese than with flowers. For one thing, cheese goes better on my toast.

      Reply
  20. Jean
    Jean says:

    Like you, I didn’t appreciate flowers until much later in life….when I discovered I had a black thumb. 🙁 Whereas some friends and some family members have a natural gift for keeping flowers and veggies alive a lot longer.

    I’m really glad that growing plants of all sorts and having gardens is reaching the younger generations these days. That’s it’s not just an old folks’ hobby pottering around.

    Reply
  21. davidprosser
    davidprosser says:

    Happy New Year Bun. I’ve made a resolution to try and not give anyone a reason to have to buy flowers because of me for another year at least. I will be content to carry on breathing a while longer.
    Have an excellent year.
    Hugs

    Reply
  22. SD Gates
    SD Gates says:

    I like the idea of using a bazooka in the garden. Think of the mayhem I could shower down upon my colonies of slugs.
    Great post, and I too wish you actually had flowers growing on your person, that would be fantastic!!!!

    Reply
  23. Eliza Waters
    Eliza Waters says:

    At least you are heading in the right direction, Bun. Flower appreciation, like music appreciation, takes time to refine. 😉 As you know, I am ALL about flowers, so of course, I loved your post, whatever its vintage. Best wishes for a happy new year!

    Reply
  24. yvettecarol
    yvettecarol says:

    Don’t worry, Bun, your growing appreciation of floral beauty is a sign you’re becoming more aware of the world around you. Besides, when you start to slow down, even a grain of sand becomes interesting. 🙂 Cheers on a great blog. Happy New Year, Bun. I look forward to more bloggish conversations with you in 2017!

    Reply
  25. felicityglogan
    felicityglogan says:

    I’m sorry-but-pleased that your value to your boss is, as you suspect, a nostalgic one. Perhaps he is a follower of your blogs, but under a different name. In that case, take care what you say about him, or there may be more bazooka content — and you would then be forced to demonstrate your push-up abilities. I’d rather have you admiring the flowers (did you say you could smell them?) a little longer.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I’m fairly sure my boss doesn’t read my blog, but just on the off-chance, let me just mention what a joy it is to work in such a fulfilling position under an outstanding leader in an amazing company. (Smiles sweetly. Hopes for raise.)

      Reply
  26. Peter Klopp
    Peter Klopp says:

    For me your post was new and therefore provided food for thought and reflection. Being quite a few years more advanced in years, Bun, I would love to mention to your younger followers that I have gone through precisely the same stages as you so aptly described through your floral metaphors. As a consolation for 2017, please note that the last sensory perception left before you have completely withered away is the sense of touch. Happy New Year and Humorous Blogging for 2017!

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      It’s interesting that the sense of touch is the last to go, Peter. I still have that one, but I’ve gradually been losing some of my others. In my case, the first one to disappear was my sense of rhythm, as anyone who saw my attempts at dancing in the Christmas play at elementary school can attest.

      Reply
  27. In My Cluttered Attic
    In My Cluttered Attic says:

    Bun, zis is Dr. Quack here. I veel zat zis love… dizinterest… and za zudden appreziation for za flowers may all be due to za lack of attention you haz been giving zem lately. I only zay zis becauze, I rezeived zis call fromz za vife again today—a certain Ms. Buttercup. She zays for me to tellz you, zat za houzeplants zay, and zi quote…” FEED ME SEYMOUR!” Bun, haz you been neglecting za care and za keeping of our friendz za flowers again? Tsk, ts, tsk. Pleaze, goez home and feedz za plantz. You’ll feel zo mach betta… and zo villz za plantz!. 😀

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Thank you for passing on the message from my houseplants, Dr. Quack. It’s clear I’ll have to look into my houseplants’ diet and find them someone suitable–I mean something suitable to eat. Incidentally, being a medical man, you don’t happen to know a good dentist, do you? Only, mine seems to have disappeared. Pity too. He was a nice fellow. Laughed a lot.

      Reply
      • In My Cluttered Attic
        In My Cluttered Attic says:

        Ah… zat vould be Dr. Orin Scrivello. Yes, he doez zeem to have gone za mizzing. Alzo, I sought he bore a striking rezemblance tooz za actor Steve Martin. But of courze, zat iz impossible. Steve Martin haz za grey hair, not za black hair. Zo he can’t pozzibly be Dr. Scrivello. 😀

        Reply
  28. badfish
    badfish says:

    I had the same kind of growing experience. I like a good lily now and then. I also love orchids. And dandelions. I’m also going to have to quote you on this line: “…but with the best will in the world, it just isn’t that easy to climb a daffodil.” HA!

    Reply
  29. Kim Gorman
    Kim Gorman says:

    What a beautiful ode to flowers, Bun! I loved hearing how your relationship with the fairer species has evolved. I have perennial gardens all over my yard and find getting my hands in the soil and talking to the flowers therapeutic. I also know all about those plastic wrapped convenience store flowers thanks to my hubby. Lovely post!

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      Thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I know many people find gardening relaxing. As for myself, I enjoy having cactus plants, but I’ve never tried talking to them. Somehow, I suspect they’ll have prickly personalities and a tendency to make barbed comments.

      Reply
  30. Bespoke Traveler
    Bespoke Traveler says:

    If it were not for flowers all those butterflies would not have been around. Also what would so many of us would-be photographers capture? Here’s hoping that all the lilies and daffodils stay put for you to see them next year. Happy 2017 and thanks for the laughs.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I’ve got to liking them now. I think they’re pretty, but unless they are daisies, buttercups, daffodils or tulips, I still have no idea what I’m looking at most of the time.

      Reply
  31. Soul Gifts
    Soul Gifts says:

    A happy New Year to you Bun. Hope it is a good one for you and yours. Oh – and a bunch of roses for you from my garden. They come with wild life attached – earwigs and the like 🙂

    Reply
  32. Hariod Brawn
    Hariod Brawn says:

    ‘“Roses,” she thought sardonically, “All trash, m’dear.”’

    ― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

    Personally, I disagree, and there can hardly be a more perfect expression of plant life’s gift to humankind than the rose, just as it passes into the phase of incipient decay; save, perhaps, for the ancient yew or oak.

    Greetings to you, Bun, and all best wishes to you and your family for a healthy and contented New Year – happiness can come and go as it will, but may health and contentedness be with you and yours.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I have to agree with you about the beauty of the rose, Hariod. I even think the very word itself is beautiful. It’s true, of course, that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but I’m still glad the flower is not called Fred or Albert.

      Thank you very much for your good wishes. Health and contentedness are both precious gifts indeed. I hope for them both for you too.

      Reply
  33. inesephoto
    inesephoto says:

    Love the ‘enhanced interrogation of a daisy’, and I do remember this post, and the Zombie game, but it doesn’t hurt to read it again. I am going to reblog myself in January too. Hope everything is well. Have a happy New Year!

    Reply
  34. Steph McCoy
    Steph McCoy says:

    Happy New Year Bun!!! I never saw the original post but it wouldn’t matter because I really enjoy your writing. Just when I think my childhood memories have been wiped clean, I’ll read something that brings back the simplest of pleasures. When I was a kid I remember dandelions as breathtakingly beautiful, well maybe that’s a little overkill but you catch my drift.

    Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I suppose breathtakingly beautiful may be a bit of a stretch, but dandelions really are great little plants. I use to enjoy blowing their seeds into the air and watching to see which ones would go furthest. I wonder if kids still do things like that or if the lack of batteries and a touch screen would just confuse them.

      Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I’m the kind of flower whisperer that stands over my cactus plants (Fluffy and Shortly) shouting, “Don’t you dare die on me!” So far, I’m at nearly a year and counting. Keeping houseplants alive for so long is a first for me. 🙂

      Reply
    • BunKaryudo
      BunKaryudo says:

      I do like tulips, not least because it’s about one of about five flower species I can confidently name. I’m afraid I have no skill with plants, though, and tend to accidentally kill them. It’s not the most useful of skills for any aspiring gardener.

      Reply
  35. Miss Gentileschi
    Miss Gentileschi says:

    If caterpillars and slugs outrun you, I can wholly recommend making friends with moss – it grows really slowly And it is also quite resilient and often overlooked in its beauty. Happy New Year, Bun! Hope it will be a very kind one to you!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I never thought much of flowers when I was a boy. Other than the occasional enhanced interrogation of a daisy for the purposes of gathering romantic intelligence, I had no real use for them. It wasn’t that I actively disliked them, but rather that I simply couldn’t… (continued) […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Go on, write a few words. You know you want to.