Tulip, 2005 Floriade, Canberra

The color of spring

I pass by the floral department in the local Safeway and see the spring flowers with all their vibrant colors. The daffodils, hyacinths, tulips are on display, and walking up to choose a bunch for my table, I catch the fragrance of springtime.

In my current mode of cleaning and and preparing to move, I’ve given away the few potted plants I had here. I have three small flower beds outside, but of course those plants will stay with the house. No digging up and transplanting for me.

To take the place of green and growing plants, I’ve been buying cut flowers for my table. I have a different color of bulb every week. Sometimes I’ve mixed colors of tulips, or had a bouquet of a single hue. The deep purples and milky white flowers are stunning together, and make a showy centerpiece. I also like the freshness of pink tulips. Seeing a big double bunch spilling out of their vase in the morning brings a smile to my face.

I made a decision recently that I know would be scandalous to my 89-year-old grandmother. I’ve determined that I’m not going to have indoor plants again. For a person who comes from a long line of green thumbs, mine is surprisingly, disappointingly, brown. I can grow flowers outdoors. But when I bring a plant inside, it’s just a matter of time. I know it, and the plant knows it.

And here’s the thing. With my new-found freedom from potted plants, if I’m traveling for a week, I just don’t buy fresh flowers. Nothing invested, nothing lost. And since I’m at the grocery every week, any time I need to add a splash of color, it’s easy enough to do. Cut flowers liven up my dining room in a way that a potted plant never did. And they last amazingly well. I can keep a bouquet for almost a week.

I do like a fresh cutting of rosemary or basil on a regular basis, and I plan to put those outdoors in my next location. But I’m making a pact with myself right now. When I move, I’ll put effort into plants outside. But I’ll let the grocery florist do the work for the inside. Should be a pretty even trade, when I think about the number of plants I’ve bought and killed over the years. At least there’s no surprise when you buy cut flowers. You know they’re going to wilt and turn brown within a week. I guess, to be fair, I always knew that about the potted plants too…the timing was a bit more uncertain, depending on the heartiness of the plant. But the outcome was never in doubt!

So here’s another little declaration of independence: I don’t need a potted plant to make me feel at home, or to create a warm environment. I do need color and freshness. But like many things in life, there’s more than one way to fulfill the need. I’m focused on freeing myself from things that have taken my time, held me back, kept me in a maze, and not returned the investment I’ve made. Potted plants fit in several of these categories. It’s a small step, but one of several I’ve taken recently. And even better, voicing it out loud validates my decision, tells me I’m letting go.

It’s going to be a great spring. See you at the floral counter!

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