A few days ago I did an Instagram post explaining why peonies were my favourite flowers, and invited followers to respond to the post (and its associated Instagram story) by answering the question 'What is your favourite flower - and why?'
I was curious to learn whether these types of preference are established in childhood (the peonies in question grew in heady clumps on our front rockery and our tabby cat used to dose beneath them) or whether (in the case of flowers at least) it's simply down to 'what we like the look - or fragrance - of'. Of course it can be the latter, but I'm inclined to think that were 'taste' the only criterion then it would be pretty difficult to choose from the enormous variety of flowers on offer.
Interestingly, those who stated a preference without referring to childhood or nostalgia tended to hesitate somewhat in their choices - along the lines of 'I like roses in the summer, but daffodils in the spring... hmm but I also like...etc' or 'I like peonies, tulips and irises'...that is to say, they had difficulty in pinning it down. Conversely, expressed preferences which arose from nostalgia or childhood memories were very definite and unhesitating: individuals were very specific about what they liked and why. Some such answers were 'daisies, because my Grandad would get me to come and pick them before he mowed the lawn' ; 'freesias because they remind me of my mother'; 'peonies, because they remind me of my childhood garden' (it seems I wasn't the only child to have them in my garden!); and yet still 'poppies, because they make me think of the fields where I grew up'.
It all really serves to affirm that small things, no matter how modest or seemingly unimportant, become magnified and enormous through the eye-glass of nostalgia and the fond (though sometimes bittersweet) memories of childhood or times gone by are things by which we continually appraise the present. If choosing something by looks alone, we can chop and change, and not care so much either way: our inclinations are fickle; but when our preference comes from the heart, from deep-seated feelings which have long-existed and to which are attached memories we may be clutching at still, there is no hesitation, no doubt.
The same goes for the love of retro things - a force which is stronger than can be explained by the value of the things themselves: they are a little reminder which transports us back - heart, mind and soul - to a time, a person, or even a place, dear to us, which we carry with us, somewhere beneath the surface and in which superficial or financial value plays little part. For Citizen Kane, it was Rosebud.
So , what is your favourite flower - and Why?
In interior design it's easy to forget that the outdoor space is almost as important as the inside one. Whilst a mid-century modern look is enhanced by 'bringing the outdoors in' in terms of plants and cut flowers, the opposite is also true: patio styling is a key mid-century modern theme too, and 'bringing the indoors out'.
Even if the garden consists of just the smallest of patios, a stunning look can still be achieved which will both complement and add value to the property itself, effectively creating the illusion of an interior extension.
In the picture below, a forlorn-looking patio we inherited with the house has been given a glamorous makeover. The dingy block walls were scrubbed, then sealed, and painted with outdoor masonry paint in a 'putty' hue; the gaps between the patio slabs have been weeded; a row of slabs have been removed to allow for a small patio-garden: we enriched the soil with ericaceous compost and planted the bed up with an unusual fragrant species of rhododendron, rhododendron fragrantissimum. Flowering in May, usually just after the lily of the valley (pictured right ) obligingly pop up, and in time to enjoy their fragrance on what in most years might be the first 'patio days' of the year.
Tending the garden or patio really does enhance the home, and moreover, the effort pays off in terms of reciprocal benefits: what could bring more joy than plucking a few sprigs of home-grown flowers or shrubs back into the house, bringing the outdoors back inside again...
Blog : by Blackbirds and Me See also : instagram @blackbirdsandme