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?
Blog : by Blackbirds and Me See also : instagram @blackbirdsandme