Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

I promised you something cheerful and fun today, so I bring you…


In a gander through my brain and photo collection, I found a plethora of petals, a bundle of blooms, a congregation of colors.

What’s cheerier than a flower smiling up at you from the grass or bowing over you from above?

I take pictures of flowers second only to clouds.

I think my camera roll goes something like this: food, cocktails, clouds, flowers.

And it’s a tight race.

If you could put my phone in a time capsule, what would someone a thousand years from now think?

Today I share with you a few of those beauteous blossoms, seen from east coast to west coast and everywhere in between.

Starting with my favorite type of blooms… wildflowers. I love them because they grow anywhere and everywhere, in parks and in ditches, on the side of the road and in gardens. You don’t have to plant them or water them or do anything but love them. In the park where we like to walk, these flowers grow up on both sides of the grassy path and by midsummer they are so tall they tower above my head. Butterflies throng them and bees happily ignore you while buzzing around them. It’s awe-inspiring to walk between them.

A few springtime tulips growing in a bed on a New York street. They are not, contrary to popular belief, Dutch. They originated in the Ottoman Empire where they were a sign of wealth and power. They did, however, spark a tulip craze in Dutch cities during the 17th century, where the most prized and expensive tulips cost as much as it did to buy a house.

One of my favorites… sunflowers, of course! Doesn’t it look like the zinnias are worshipping them? As it should be!

These sunny fellas are called sneezeweed. I googled it. I googled a lot of these, because I had no idea what most of them were actually called. This took an inordinate amount of time, but a worthy subject deserved the attention. I love how they grow in a nearly perfect line, following the little ditch of running water. The genus is Helenium, which is named for Helen of Troy. Legend has it that these flowers bloomed where her tears fell.

My first ever sighting of a hummingbird was along the side of a road where it was enjoying this Mexican Sage. Yes, we pulled over to take pictures. Fun fact: it is part of the mint family.

My second ever sighting of a hummingbird was in the same area of California next to this blazing beauty. It’s called a red hot poker. Bet you can see why. Apparently in the Middle Ages it was used to ward off lightning strikes. I guess lightning was supposed to think that spot was already taken by another lightning and go away. Hm.

Yes, yes, it grows EVERYWHERE, including all along every inch of the New Jersey Turnpike. But Queen Anne’s Lace is a very fun and cool plant. Did you know it’s part of the carrot family? And if you crush the leaves and stems it smells like carrots. You can eat the roots and make tea from the flowers. So in the zombie apocalypse when food is scarce, you won’t have to sustain yourself on bugs and grass.

This one grows… well, like a weed… all over the place here. It’s one of my favorites because it’s the kind of shape that makes you go… this thing exists? It’s called a passion flower and it has a lot of Christian symbolism. It was named by Spanish missionaries. The three stigmas symbolize the three nails of the crucifixion, the 10 petals at the bottom represent 10 disciples, not counting Judas the betrayer and Peter the denier, and the corona represents Jesus’ thorn of crowns. It’s also used to treat anxiety and insomnia. In other news, it’s just stunning to look at.

Cats go very well with flowers.

As do butterflies.

This one is a pink magnolia getting ready to bloom.

And a white one in full regalia. Fun fact: magnolia are thought to be THE earliest known flowering plant. Fossils have been found from over 20 million years ago. Mind.Blown. They are so old they existed before bees and only make nectar that beetles like, so that is how they get pollinated. You can eat them, too. Apparently they taste like cardamom, which is good news since they grow all over here, and have you seen the price of cardamom?

These adorable little bells are called foxglove and they are inhabited by fairies. True fact.

This one is called iron butterfly and it’s a bee and butterfly magnet. I love these names as much as the flowers. Here’s something I didn’t realize until I was browsing through these pictures: there are a LOT of purple flowers. Which is weird, because supposedly purple is one of the more rare colors in nature. Guess I’m just lucky.

A view I can get behind. Just add cat.

There’s something soothing in the symmetry of a flower bed.

But the unruly explosion of a wildflower garden is still my favorite. I think it suits my personality. Sort of… chaos, but in a good way. Unless it’s in my kitchen.

Romantic little puffs of apricot drift roses. Yep, googled that one, too.

Pretty allium pom-poms. Their stems are leafless.

Perhaps the very definition of cheerful… a field full of daisies. Tiptoe through them, please!

Happy, sunny, pretty little flowers called… plains coreopsis. I feel like they deserve a cuter name than that. You can make tea out of the petals and apparently drinking it wards off lightning, too. I guess when you live on the plains where all these wildflowers grow and are basically a human lightning rod, you will do whatever it takes to avoid getting struck.

A long time ago in a land far away, I remember walking with my father and we were looking at the beautiful trees around us and having a conversation about what they were called and how they grew. In my enlightened teenage mentality, I told him that I didn’t really care much about the facts of the thing, I just wanted to appreciate them. And he tried in his patient dad way to tell me that knowing the facts of the thing could make you appreciate them more. I disagreed.

Fast forward and I will admit that dad had a point. Knowing the names and fun things about all the flowers definitely makes me enjoy and appreciate them more.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty cheerful right about now. It’s hard to look at all these pretty colors and fascinating shapes and be anything but.

Unless you’re this guy.

Photo: an enormous rhododendron bush at my parents’ house. It’s a magnificent wall of flowers.