“It is to be all made of fantasy, all made of passion and all made of wishes…” ~William Shakespeare (As You Like It, V, ii)

In July I introduced you to the worldwide movement of The Lonely Bouquet and showed you in that past post how my nephew Truman and I delivered a few of them around town.  Last week I had the good fortune to inherit some leftover event flowers (thanks to my generous current employer) and fashioned a few more jam jars for adoption:

A Lonely Bouquet waiting for adoption.

A Lonely Bouquet waiting for adoption.

This time I left each bouquet at a local animal hospital or emergency vet clinic, hoping that they would bring just a small touch of comfort to someone who either had a sick pet or perhaps had to make a very tough and sad decision about a pet’s future.  I know what that’s like, and while nothing can take away the immediate sadness, I thought that a free and pretty posey might at least take their mind off it for a few minutes.

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That last picture is where I took my dog Foxy for many visits with her canine ophthalmologist when she had optical cancer, but in addition to it being an eye clinic, it’s also an after-hours emergency clinic.  And it’s where I finally had to take her on that last day when she was in pain and I made the impossible decision to ease her suffering.  It was hard for me to approach the door of that place once again, but this time it was for a good reason, and I hope that either a pet parent or one of the kind staff members were the recipients of the gift.

It’s been proven scientifically that flowers have the power to make us feel better – they have an actual mood-improving effect on our brain waves and emotional functions when we are around them, isn’t that amazing?  Take a look at this picture I snapped of a carton full of wedding flowers from a few weeks ago:

pinkflowers

What is your gut reaction upon first seeing the amazing mix of pinks and lavenders and corals and textures?  For me it’s awe and amazement – it’s like looking at nature’s cotton candy.  And what’s even more amazing to me is that the planner at that wedding actually had us DISCARD and not use these flowers because she said the bride would think them too “pink-y” to go with the rest of the flowers (which were equally as beautiful).  This carton of flowers went directly into a dumpster without any wedding guests (or the bride) having seen them, which is shocking to me.  But at least they’ll live on through this blog!

I’ve been grappling lately with the fate and purpose of wedding flowers.  I know they’ve served their purpose, but it’s still sad to see them go immediately into trash bags and dumpsters either there at the venue right after the event, or the next day when the van is unloaded; it’s still a shock to me as I toss thousands of dollars worth of floral arrangements into a big black Hefty bag as the last lingering guests are still milling about.  Yes sometimes there are a few guests here and there who will take a centerpiece or two home with them, but it’s not common.  Even sadder is when the bride’s bouquet is left behind on some random table next to empty beer bottles…why wouldn’t they want to keep that and take it with them?

From what I’ve witnessed over the last few months, weddings have become such staged, scripted, over-the-top spectacles that unfortunately, significance and meaning can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.  Everything is about getting the perfect photo op, or fretting over whether something is “vintage” or “modern” enough, or fitting into the trends of the day even if it has no ties or significance to the two people getting married.  And this includes the flowers.

I get that weddings are BIG business – always have been and always will be – but it seems to me that very few if any brides actually consider the meaning and significance of flowers they pick for their weddings.  Instead of considering the language of flowers and what each variety represents, or picking flowers that mean something to them for personal or family reasons, it seems most brides these days pick their flowers based on how many pins it got on a Pinterest board.  The flowers are just an accessory, albeit usually a very pricey one, but not one that has any true meaning for most people at the ceremony. (I’m generalizing here of course, but this is just what I’ve noticed is true for most weddings; I’m sure there are those brides out there that do pick their flowers based on personal reasons, I just haven’t seen it that often so far.)

(I’ve read that there was literal outrage when William and Kate got married a few years ago that her bridal bouquet was not big or “royal” enough and that she was slammed by fashion critics for her bouquet being too small for the scale of the event.  Little did they know that every single flower in that bouquet was appropriately picked based on historical significance and family tradition – read about it here in one of my favorite flower blogs by Flowerona.)

Here’s an example: one of the most in-demand wedding flowers is the peony.  Many brides want a lush bouquet full of them, but they’re also one of the most expensive flowers (at least where we are), so not many can afford them.  But how many brides stop to consider that in the Language of Flowers, mischievous and brazen nymphs are said to hide in the petals of the peony, giving it the meaning of shame.  And in China, the peony has become a masculine motif, associated with a devil-may-care attitude and a disregard for consequence.  Yes peonies are breathtaking but one must admit those aren’t the most romantic character traits…

800px-Peony_closeup

Peony close-up

One of the meanings of ranunculus, another very popular wedding flower, is ingratitude.  A yellow rose in the Victorian ages could signify infidelity and jealousy.  And the most commonly-cited meanings of the ever-popular hydrangea: “A boaster, Heartlessness, You are cold.” 

Now I get that these originally-prescribed meanings don’t necessarily have to hold true today; a beautiful flower can be just a beautiful flower.  But back in the day, people everywhere knew what it meant to give a certain flower to a certain person.  Why and when did we lose that purpose, that significance?

Maybe I’m just being a flower nerd, but I find this kind of stuff fascinating.  Flowers have their own language, contain their own messages and meanings, can alter our brain waves, and many edible varieties can even provide sustenance in addition to beauty.  They have the ability to soothe, calm, excite, incite, cheer and transport to a state of UNunhappy.  They can speak volumes to recipients even when the sender can’t find any words of their own.  That’s power.

So you can make any bouquet or garden of flowers as you like it; you can have it say what you want to say.  There’s a flower for every meaning.  If it is to be all made of fantasy: the poppy.  If it is to be all made of passion: the orange rose.  And if it is to all be made of wishes: holly. 

By the way: one non-profit charity in England is changing the landscape of wasted/discarded wedding flowers.  Floral Angels recycles and re-purposes leftover event flowers into beautiful bouquets which they then deliver to women’s shelters, senior centers, hospitals and other sites in need of cheer.  Check out their Facebook page here and a big kudos to them for all the work that they do in the name of bringing joy and well-being to others.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

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