The Power of Flowers

PHOTO BY TIM VAN SCHMIDT; Annual Flower Trial Garden

Tim Van Schmidt

You see it time and time again in the movies. When an errant husband wants to make up with his wife, he brings a bouquet of flowers to the meeting. Flowers are meant as the most sincere gift — so vibrant and yet so fragile.

Like music, flowers are often an essential part of many types of celebrations, from weddings to funerals, and they add a natural element of beauty you just can’t produce in a factory.

Or can you? I spent my first years growing up in a greenhouse my father hand-built. He and my mother — both graduates of Purdue’s Horticulture School — grew geraniums. There were rows and rows of benches with hundreds of plants — and this was a small operation. So yes, flowers are mass-produced for the marketplace.

But if you have ever seen a Rocky Mountain hillside covered with wildflowers, you know that the true power of flowers is much bigger than greenhouses. They are part of Nature’s bounty with or without human help.

Still, humans have been fascinated with flowers forever and can’t help but give them special attention.

According to an antique book from my shelf — “Floral Gift,” published in 1846 — flowers not only are beautiful but also have meaning. Roses, both pink and red, mean “love, ardent and sincere,” a rosebud is a “confession of love” and a rose, “full-blown,” means “you are beautiful.”

To make ends meet at our family greenhouse, my parents not only grew geraniums, but they also did custom floral arrangements for so many special occasions — they knew the meaning of flowers on an everyday basis. Their cooler was stocked with fresh-cut flowers and I can still smell the cold sweetness of the carnations that would waft up whenever the door was opened.

PHOTO BY TIM VAN SCHMIDT; Annual Flower Trial Garden

Flowers have also been closely connected to art — quite literally. I had the good fortune to view the Milwaukee Museum of Art’s special exhibit “Art in Bloom” one year. It’s a special event where floral designers are challenged to interpret choice artworks with flowers, then the exhibit places the originals and the arrangements together. The flowers don’t last long — and the exhibit lasts for only three days — but the artistic thought that goes into the presentation is ageless.

Very recently, I was impressed with the thought, care, and scientific know-how that have gone into The Annual Flower Trial Garden at CSU. It’s a no-brainer stop in Fort Collins if you love flowers — located at 1401 Remington Street.

This local garden is not so much about making the landscaping like a special environment. I saw that at the famous Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, where reality becomes a fairyland.

PHOTO BY TIM VAN SCHMIDT; Annual Flower Trial Garden

The Annual Flower Trial Garden is more about the innovations of growing flowers. The wide arcs of bright colors are beautiful to see and the diversity of flower varieties that are on full display is astounding.

Apparently, some varieties are better than others — annual winners are chosen. But to the person looking for some beauty in a world full of virus concerns, climate concerns, political concerns — you get the picture — The Annual Flower Trial Garden at CSU, even for a quick visit, is a welcome refuge. 

Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. Hear his interviews with international musicians on Youtube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt.”

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