If I could be a flower, what blossom would I choose to be?
Go ahead, laugh. But I’ve considered this question ever since wildflowers greeted me at my West Virginia castle a few weeks ago.
The deep purples and bright yellows winked at me from between thin blades of grass at the border of the drive. Around the corner, the blooms scattered in a symphony of color on both sides of the path that stretched the length of the house leading to the front door.
One would think I should have expected to see what I saw. After all, spring and flowers are longtime friends. But I gazed in awe at the hillside that had been transformed into a wash of purple and yellow.
No wonder I was surprised. Five years ago, I tossed wildflower seeds all over the bank in front of our castle—the home we disguise as a shack. The best gardeners I know had said, “You don’t have to be a horticulture specialist when it comes to wildflowers. They grow for everyone.”
I waited and waited and waited, spring after spring after spring. Not one blossom showed its colorful headdress. Squirrels scampered around the feral ferns and the weeds that thrived, but the seeds I had spread showed no fruit.
It occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, my wildflowers never got the chance to bloom in previous years. Maybe, just maybe, they rose to meet the sun this year before my husband woke his trusty weed eater from its long winter nap.
I admired the colors swaying in the breeze, and the wheels in my mind started churning—dangerous, I know.
I said to myself, “Self, if you could be a flower, you would want to be a wildflower.”
But then another blossom came to mind. At our southern home, the grass in the tiny patch we call a “front yard” was scraggly and scarce. While my West Virginia wildflowers smiled in the shade of a cool sun, the sizzling southern rays scorched our meager South Carolina lawn.
We bid the grass “adieu” and replaced it with something more suited to heat and sandy soil—Knock Out roses. Gardener I am not, but I’ve always wanted Knock Out roses. They bloom spring through the first frost and longer in the south where Jack rarely comes calling.
We planted hot pink rose bushes. Well, Gary manned the shovel, and I told him where to dig. It’s the secret to why our marriage works, but I digress.
I stood back and admired my new roses and said to myself, “Self, if you could be a flower, maybe you would rather be a rose, especially a Knock Out rose. Doesn’t every girl want to be called a ‘knock out’ at some time in her life?”
It made sense until I thought about the thorns. I want to be a knock-out, but not the kind with claws beneath her pretty façade.
Back to the drawing board. I could be a pot of impatiens or an ivy geranium or a sunny marigold. I could be the bloom on a rhododendron sprouting from a rock ledge in the woods or a snowball-like hydrangea blossom drooping from its vine.
All beautiful, but what about lantana? Lantana, like my new roses, boasts a continuous bloom unless frost bites it. And it’s resilient. Trim it to next to nothing, and it comes back bigger and brighter.
But to be true to myself, my bloom needs an element of surprise. There should be a little bit of wild in my flower.
If I could be a flower, I would choose to be a…wildflower. That’s why, at our castle, I took one look at Gary with his weed eater in hand and said, “Choose life.”
writer, blogger, columnist