The connections plants make

Feb 11, 2020

I don’t think it’s any accident that when we make connections with plants, we make connections with each other. I discovered how true this is when I was selling edible flowers. My customers would tell me how excited they were about the flowers, how they were going to use them, how they were to become part of their special occassion. My customers didn’t have to do that, they could have just put an order through the shop, I’d have picked the flowers, sent them off and that would have been it. But those lovely people reached out and made a connection with me. Through messages and photos they shared with me their family traditions, their wedding day worries, their ventures into new business. The flowers facilitated that. The beauty of flowers brings out a sense of awe and romance that softens us in a way that is quite unique I think.

Mixed punnet of spring edible flowers

We know this anyway, it’s why we give bouquets of flowers to cheer up a sick friend or to celebrate an achievement or birthday. I’ve been thinking for a while about the other ways plants connect me to the people in my life and I’m sure these ways will be familiar to others too.

Yes, plants make lovely gifts but it’s not just the act of gifting, it’s what remains that creates the connection. I have several plants in my garden that were given to me by family and friends. When their shoots emerge from the soil or their first blooms appear I don’t just see what’s in front of me I see the person who the plant connects me to. This is particularly special when the connection is made to those who are no longer with us.

White dicentra given to me by a friend

With that thought in mind, memorial plants make really meaningful gifts, especially a tree or a rose, something that will be around for a long time. Not only for the reason that they are a reminder of someone significant but they also bring comfort because they embody the very cycle of life. After a bereavement of my own last year, a friend sent me a miniature rose plant and when it flowered a few weeks later it offered me lots of reassurance. Beautiful things live on, even at the saddest times.

At the other end of the scale is new beginnings. Activities like plant swaps and giving home propagated plants to others has another level of sweetness to my mind. What’s more lovely than nurturing a new life from a seed or a cutting and then passing on all of that time, that care, energy and patience to someone else? The plant comes with a whole future ahead of it but also a whole origin of love. If a loved one mentions that they want to grow a particular plant, I find myself enthusiastically saying “I’ll get you some seeds for that”. Which I think translates to “Let me pass on something that brings me joy to a person I adore”.

Sunflowers in the sunshine

Then there’s the silliness. Plant growing competitions are a big one in our family, we have rules and a trophy and everything! We’ve competed in growing the tallest sunflowers, the longest beans, the heaviest onion, the largest carrot you name it. It’s an annual event that each year causes lots of rivalry, teasing and laughter and brings us all together. Again, it’s the plants. The plants weave their magical connecting spell every time.

And finally (although I’m sure there are actually many more) there’s the nourishment; making food for others that includes something you’ve grown, even if it isn’t a whole feast but a garnish of herbs or a sprinkle of petals. I have to admit, I don’t do this often but I plan to do more. Healthy, home grown, organic food surely has to be one of the biggest declarations of care, right?

Does anything else other than plants have this gift of bringing people together? For me I’m not sure. The only other thing I think comes close is books, they’re rather special aren’t they? Even better, books about plants.