“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.”—Mitch Hedburg
So I was walking along and I noticed this attached to a lamp post:
That’s nice, I thought. Someone had a fake flower for some reason and rather than just throw it away they decided to share it with the world, or at least with anyone who happened to be walking down that particular street. I assumed it was an accident until I got to the next one.
There’s an extensive world of flower symbolism that varies widely across cultures, although most people don’t think about it. The Victorians had a whole language of flowers, but then the Victorians were terrified of ever saying what they meant out loud so they had all sorts of subtle codes for everything and could turn your standard grocery store flower arrangement into a novel. Now most of that flower symbolism is forgotten. Roses—specifically red roses—are still understood to mean love, and every once in a long while I hear someone referred to as a “shrinking violet” or a “pansy”, but for the most part if flowers mean anything it’s usually “I have feelings for you” or “I have some flowers for you”.
Was there a message being conveyed on the lamp posts? Probably not. Part of the problem with flower symbolism is you have to recognize the specific flowers before you can know the meaning, and aside from a couple of handfuls of popular ones I couldn’t tell a dahlia from a delphinium, although I do enjoy reading Skye Ent’s adventures in gardening.
I know some people feel the world we live in now lacks subtlety, that there’s too much sharing, too much openness. They complain that some things should be left unexpressed, and I wish they’d shut up about it.