Hello, everyone. I’m writing you all today because there is something I need to get off my chest. It’s been weighing down on me for some time now. I don’t think I can keep it in much longer. I figured that the CLM blog would be a safe space to come out and say this…..I love plants. Okay, I’m actually COMPLETELY OBSESSED with PLANTS. I can’t stop looking at them and thinking about them. I eat, sleep and breathe plants. I dream about them. Sometimes I even talk to them. I love house plants, food crops, native grasses, wildflowers, weeds, even some invasives! Cacti, moss, conifers, C3, C4, lichens since they’re like half plant, ALL OF THEM ARE BEAUTIFUL. That’s why this internship has been so perfect for me. I get paid to walk around and look at plants, and touch them too; “botanize” if you will. I’ve gotten to flex my identification chops and learn about hundreds of natives. I’ve gotten better acquainted with where they grow, when they bloom, and even when they fruit. I feel like the friendship between me and my green companions has become more personal, in a way.
In true friendship spirit, plants and I enjoy sharing activities together. One of my favorite activites (besides cooking and eating) is floral arranging. I found it to be very cathartic when I was stressed out in college, or when I’m sad about something. Floral arrangements are great way to take a little piece of a hike or a garden home with you. If you know how to dry the plants, their beauty can last quite a bit longer. You can take a nice bouquet home to your honey for smiles and smooches. Give one to a stranger for a weird look/new friendship. Make a centerpiece to gaze at while eating dinner, brighten up a room, or hang a seasonal wreath on a door.
Now, I don’t want y’all to think I was just walking around pickin’ daisies when I was supposed to be working. It’s rare that I pick a flower unless I’m having a hard time trying identify the species, so I take a specimen to press for a later time. I always want to leave as many flowers for the pollinators so they can transform to fruits and seeds and spread their genes. It’s the cycle of life, folks. The only time I’ll interfere with the flow of the cycle, is when the plant is invasive. I don’t have a problem taking it out of an environment it does not belong in. When I was doing my capstone research on a dry prairie ecosystem, I would often make a bouquet of the invasive exotics encroaching on it at the end of a field day. It was enjoyable to make something pretty, while also helping manage the land. Imagine if florists did that!
When making arrangements, I like to emulate the habitats the plants came from in the shape and sectioning of the piece. This is my own botanical style because I’m an amateur without any formal training. When constructing an arrangement, I try to incorporate elements of the plants’ homeland. I want my final product to be reflective of the open field or woodland path from which (it/they) came originally. I also like to take in consideration the season that they bloom in. Spring might be most people’s favorite time of year for natural beauty, but I personally really like the muted and earthy shades of Autumn. Plus, when everything has already flowered and gone to seed, there’s no worrying about whether you might be stealing a bumble bee’s food.
Crafting floral arrangements is a way to repurpose nature’s own expression of evolution as a medium for new art, beauty, decorations, and mementos. You can touch them, smell them, and best of all, compost them when you’re ready to make a new one!