Petals to the Medals

Skip and his beautiful daughter, Cherie. We love our azaleas.

This past Easter, or the Saturday prior, I should say, I was about to make my usual trip through the aisles of my local Publix supermarket when, upon entering the store, I was pleasantly distracted by the resplendence of all the cut flowers arrayed about the entryway. During my corporate years, one of my colleagues acquainted me with the joy of having fresh flowers in the house. This person, a senior vice president, would routinely arrange to have fresh cut blooms delivered to his home every week. (He and his wife also had a full-time, live-in maid, who arranged them in vases throughout the house.)

Well, this fellow was in a higher pay grade then me, so he could afford to do that. But, in any event, I really liked the idea, and I soon found myself picking up a pot of mums or hydrangeas from the grocery store on many Friday evenings as I made my way home from the office. My wife and I were both pleased to see how the addition seemed to bring our home to life, with all that color and visual texture.

Having become a tad lazy in recent years, I am more likely to have silk plants in my household than actual cut blossoms. But I still enjoy having some real flowers in here once in awhile, which takes me to the subject of my roses.

I am certainly not a green thumbed person, but a few years ago I stuck a couple of rose bushes in the ground in the backyard and they actually began producing beautiful blossoms—who would’ve thought? So now, at least in the summer months, I have access to fresh roses for the house most weeks, as these two buggers are pretty prolific. And there is nothing more elegant than a single cut red rose at the dinner table, even when the menu consists of beanie weenies.

The drawback, however, is the unexpected time and cost associated with keeping a simple rose alive in Florida. Since we can sometimes go for an entire winter without a hard freeze down here, our insect critters are able to grow strong and healthy year-round. (And large, I might add.) And they have ravenous appetites for the foliage of my roses. Thus, it is a constant battle, fought with various sprays and insecticides, to keep them at bay.

Frankly, it is clearly apparent that our suburban lawns have become completely infested by these fungi, spider mites, brown patch, black spot, dollar spot, pythium, rust and mildew, not to mention early and late blight (those last two sound like the culmination of an alcohol problem). Correct me if I am wrong, but I have a hard time believing all this was an issue with the early settlers of America when setting up housekeeping in the nineteenth century. So, what all this seems to tell us is that these afflictions of our ornamentals and other flora are not unlike STDs—a result of us all living just a liiittle too closely together, perhaps. Very interesting.

In any event, lovely flowers enhance our lives, and their presence is always welcome. Even at the Olympics, winning athletes are presented with bouquets of flowers before receiving their medals. Beijing handed out roses, while Torino went with a mix of rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. Vancouver’s floral offerings contained green mums and hypericum berries provided by local florists. We should all be so fortunate to receive such resplendent gifts along with our medals in life.

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