Love Comes In At The Eye…


… and wine comes in at the mouth.  Acccording to W.B. Yeats, "That's all we shall know for truth before we grow old and die."

Actually, love comes in at the mouth for me.  My main motivation for gardening is dinner.

And while my vegetable garden is generally beautiful, my ornamental beds are often a mess.  I need some hardscaping I don't have the cash for, so mulch spills out of my curbless beds onto the sidewalk and the streets.  The chickens tear up the beds in the back, spraying soil onto a lawn that doesn't really want to be lawn anyway.  I experiment way too much and generate color combinations that can cause toothache.  I still haven't found the right backbone perennial for the bone-dry sun in the back.

Nonetheless, something very important does come in at the eye. 

I'm not sure what to call it, but it involves a fascination with individual flowers.  Right now, nothing is out there but some tiny bulbous irises and the very first species crocuses.  But I leave my desk all day long just to look at them, the same way I leave my desk to get a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate and perk myself up.  The irises are particularly satisfying, with their velvety dark purple fingers. 

I'll do the same thing when the first roses bloom and the first lilies.  For as long as I've been gardening, I drop whatever I'm doing several times a day, stare at the flowers and feel better.  Seventeen years ago, I had a wonderful but stressful job that meant long hours in a basement in Boston, three and a a half hours away from my garden. I only came home on the weekends. On Mondays, I would sometimes bring in bouquets of flowers for my office desk.  They were relaxing. 

I once interviewed a psychologist for a piece I was writing on the healing power of flowers.  She told me that if you hand almost anyone a bouquet of flowers, they will smile.  She said it's very rare that anything elicits such a universal response and compared it to dropping a snake down someone's back, which is equally reliable in causing fear.

Failing the flowers, I would take ten minutes in the midst of the office madness and flip through a glossy gardening book.  That reminded me, too, that there was a natural world outside the basement, a place where there is sunshine instead of computers.

Anybody else stare at the flowers?


  1. Great post! I like to stare at flowers, but also the trees, the sky, etc. For years I taught in a classroom with no windows, and it drove me crazy; now, I teach in a much smaller, older classroom, but it has a huge bank of windows and they all open, so I can let in the breeze, the smell of the rain, etc…..I swear it has an effect on the well-being of the students to have windows and fresh air and views outside.

  2. Don’t you sometimes wonder how a flower-crazy gardener ever manages to get anything accomplished in the course of a day? Other than enjoying flowers, I mean.

  3. Another “yes”. This is the specific reason why I’m staying home for my two week vacation. I could take a vacation almost anywhere. I have money. I have time. But where I want to go the most is in my back yard with the flowers, sun, and spring. It’s called relaxation & rejuvenation and it involves all of my flowers.

  4. I can simply think of certain flowers and swear I can smell them. It must trigger that scent-sensing part of the brain for me. Works for good dirt and mossy smells too. I used to use this trick when I was a cubicle girl. (How did I ever sit still like that?)

  5. I stare at leaves unfurling too. Not just the flowers. I talk to the leaves, I dig under decaying leaves to find them erupting. I sat out on my front porch last night and just stared at all the leaves poking out of my soil. There are about 7 snowdrops, but they are probably getting performance anxiety after all the attention they have been getting.

  6. Another big “YES” here. I have gone outside several times in the last couple of days just to gaze at the crocuses and species tulips. And when my irises start blooming, I will be out there every spare minute, looking and smelling and taking pictures!

  7. Absolutely. Flowers pick me up when I need it and calm me down when I need that instead. One particular corner of our garden is the safe place my mind visits in particularly stressful situations. As a grower, I work with plants all day and yet the first thing I do when I get home is walk the garden and greenhouse. I don’t know why they make me happy, but they do. Spring is here in VA and the ephemerals are calling 🙂

  8. I think that is one reason I gravitated towards gardening–because of the healing and peaceful effect it has on me. And I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love flowers…

  9. ” … a fascination with individual flowers.” You said it, sister. I love how everyone who has commented shares such a sense of wonder in the flowers and a sense of belonging among them. I needed a way to be connected to my garden while at work so I started taking a photo of each plant as it comes into bloom. I put them into a Google web album. Now, when it seems like the day will never end, I just click on the link and stare at my flowers!

  10. I used to work in a small flower shop, and I agree with that psychologist–it was rare to have a grumpy customer!

  11. I not only stare at flowers, but this year have taken up a new hobby of taking macro photos of them since my eyesight isn’t what it was. I can go out and touch and sniff and snap, and when I come in, I can see them in all of their glory (and surprising parts, sometimes) on the screen. Thank goodness for auto focus!
    And thank goodness for decades past, when I planted hundreds of bulbs, flowering shrubs and perennials that I now enjoy.

  12. And how! I have just retired and one of the greatest pleasures of being at home all day is the opportunity to just wander around the yard and LOOK several times a day.

  13. Your description of your ornamental garden made me feel much better. I spend all day at work with my mind waundering to my garden, I even have photos of it on my work PC as my screensaver. I feel so much better with plants around me

  14. It’s interesting…I take notice of about any flower, but I only stare at the ones I grow, no matter how they compare to everything else. Growing my own stuff is so much more rewarding.

  15. Even when it’s raining, I grab my cup of tea, and wander out to see what has changed in my garden. It makes me smile and gets me ready for the day in my cubicle.

  16. I usually start the morning with a wander through the garden checking each plant in turn. In early spring, this includes poking under leaves to see who’s got shoots.

  17. In Minnesota it’s only the crocuses that are up, but the winter has made them so so much sweeter this year. A little purple, some orange, some bright white against the sea of brown- it’s like a cool drink of water. Or maybe warm cocoa after a long time in the snow.

  18. I stare at flowers, too. My dog is sick of me dragging him around the back yard to check on the hyacinths to see if they’ve miraculously opened in the last 2 hours.

    I also stare at dirt. I plant seeds and find myself just staring at the ground. I shake it off and then the next day I’m back 2 or three times just looking. I don’t know why I do it–maybe wishful thinking that they’ll germinate 2 weeks early?

  19. Loved reading the comments; they made me smile! I too stare at dirt and blossoms. I absolutely love to watch the bees gathering pollen from the flowers. Especially when a fat little bee tries to squeeze herself into a mellon blossom that isn’t quite open yet!

  20. Yeah. Occasionally I feel guilty about all the standing, wandering, staring and fondling. Thinking I really should be digging or pruning or planting or weeding or ………. But the garden just IS and so I let myself just BE, and continue the wandering. Of course looking at flowers is healing — they are our kin, and never forget to be who they are. It’s a good reminder to us humans, who often forget!

  21. I couldn’t finish reading these comments until… I went outside and stared at my flowers a while. Yup; I do it too. I routinely walk around the house, along the garden paths every night when I get home from work. I walk in directions – just to make sure that I don’t miss any of them.

  22. The kitchen window that faces my “garden”… a ton of pots crammed onto a pitifully small slab of concrete behind my rowhouse…is up too high for me to be able to easily “stare”….I probably climb up on my counter 5 or 6 times a day just to get a glimpse…have to peer around my cats staring at the visiting sparrows

  23. Oh yes! count me in as well! I can’t see the
    beauty of the flowers enough and plants also
    I love to be outside and watch the hummers &
    birds do their thing in my secret garden!
    The nature channel live & uncut 🙂

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