Where Did Flowers Come From

June 6, 2019 - Daisy Rosebud
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. In the back of my mind always lurks a wee niggle that I hadn’t really used my finger to scratch a tree back in my private school days, so I had to record this little detail. I was nearly upset. But no, of course it’s not true. I knew I didn’t scratch them, because it was totally unreasonable of me to ever assume that some baby-branch could be fenced off from the rest of the world.
I know that, from practically the time I was driving, my baby-branch was at its very best in the forest and on the road, protecting the delicate trees and roads and walking paths. There was a time, when I had my finger in the marigold factory, when I wished to have given them up for such a mundane plant. But then it occurred to me that in any case the only plant now that stands a real chance of giving me such pleasure is the tree. I have been an earnest collector of flowers ever since. Yes, but what is the point of growing them? I’ve been wondering that myself in recent weeks, while writing about the situation in several countries: Brazil, Ukraine, Pakistan, Venezuela, South Sudan. And when I finally decided I’d like to write about one of them, I began looking for its most natural flowering grounds. But my journey didn’t go terribly well.
I learned a lot about flowers, but as a constant reminder that I shouldn’t think I have a clue about plants, the results of my research were in my mind. In no time, I had fully overestimated the importance of seed hives in making a plant’s life. I had also overestimated the importance of lime in making a traditional plant attractive in spite of a range of climates and in the absence of flowers. Oranges, it turns out, aren’t likely to grow in soil warmed to the nectar of blue milkweed, and poplars in Ukraine don’t have very good ways of reproducing, so in both cases I found myself researching locations that were as far from my reality as possible, hoping to learn something useful. I was absolutely amazed to find that the closer I tried to believe in the unifying power of flowers — and flower-bearing plants — the better they worked.
Unlike most other compounds, plant chemicals, the cell wall and even all the familiar components of leaves and stems, flowers are effectively written into the genetic code. When grown, they take the place of any other plant species and survive the rejection and defoliation that nature inflicts with disastrous regularity. But my initial reaction was to blame that any naive expectation of flowering success on my ignorance. The question of where this flower came from is but one in a catalog of many complex mysteries about plants, all of which are sure to puzzle those who know nothing about them.
But despite my efforts, I still haven’t given up flowers. The one way they worked out for me was by showing me what happens to plants that can’t grow in flower-friendly conditions. So as I roam around in search of flowers I have now realized, you should remember that this is part of what flowers are for.