Elderly Flowers. Lessons from My Garden

Elderly Flowers
Elderly Flowers can be the most beautiful of all.

Elderly flowers — how I have been learning to love them! That’s the story of today’s post. But first let’s start with the weather.

After three straight days of gentle rain, followed by one day of no-rain, my garden remains soggy. Pink peonies in my front yard aren’t just blooming. They’re drooping down, heavier with raindrops than with peony fragrance.

Oh, the fragrance of fresh flowers! Ordinarily peonies bring a glorious perfume that delicately mingles boldness and longing. Ordinarily. Not now.

Likewise, in the back yard four small rosetrees bloom. Okay, technically they’re called “Knockout Roses” and I’m the one called “Rosetree.”

These garden members of my posse are known for their determination to bloom. They knock out flowers, no matter what.

Only now that blooming combines with drooping. Picture those little red flower faces all whining, “Do I have to smile at you? Smiling has become so hard to do. Ever since all that rain.”

Soggy Flowers, Elderly Flowers

The odd thing is, recently I’ve unblinded myself to elderly flowers. Used to be, I noticed only two kinds of flowering plants: Blooming and dead. (As in destined-for-the-trash.)

Same deal with cut flowers. Which I’m lucky enough to enjoy on a regular basis, thanks to an extremely thoughtful husband. So I care for those indoor blooms by arranging them in colorful glass vases, mixing and matching. Re-mixing, re-matching throughout the week.

Then, when the freshness goes…  unrepentently tossing those used-up sweeties.

Recently, though, I’ve started to observe something new. About indoor flowers and garden ones, too.

The Elderly Flowers Can Be Beautiful

How could I never have noticed before? There’s a poignant stage between the first beauty of flower and utter rot. Accordingly, I’ve started to call this stage “Elderly Flowers.”

As a flower fancier (and also as a plant empath), I’ve even begun to admire them.

Just because a flower’s color fades a bit, or the stem softens slightly… beauty persists.

Remarkably, what develops can be an elegant, new flavor of beauty.

Guess! Why Am I Starting to Value those Elderly Flowers?

Haha! Age 68, last year, is when I first began to unblind myself to elderly flowers. Also, in general, I stopped blinding myself to the reality of aging.

In 2017, newly turned 69…  Haha, I just typed “29” by mistake! Ahem, let’s start again… Newly turned 69, I’m finally starting to see my own signs of age.

Not with panic. Neither with resignation nor fear. More like a mild fascination. Akin to loving the autumn, because that brings colors and scents that just can’t arrive other times of year.

Slightly Elderly, Mind You. Not Decrepit

Fear not, Blog-Buddies, I’m fully functional. And still with no plans to retire.

Career-wise, I feel like I’m just getting started, finally hitting my stride.

Same in my personal life, my family, my garden.

I’m just starting to notice many things that I never noticed before. Perhaps I never needed to notice them before.

  • Like how the old saying is true: Youth is beauty.
  • And yet I’m discovering so many other ways that the years bring equally lovely forms of beauty. Dearly different. Quite lovely.

Aging Brings New Spice to Life.

With age, one becomes aware of a mixed blessing that I call “Game over.” Because this could happen to any degree. And at any time. But odds do increase with each passing decade.

One random change to circumstances or health and the quality of life can be gone for good. Like a front-page story in today’s Washington Post.

Did you know? 1 in 5 Americans over 65 do not have a single real tooth left.

That has happened to a friend of mine, a talented, brainy, and hardworking psychic. That’s America now. And that’s also age.

Even more serious forms of aging happen, game changers or even game over. Already I’ve seen that happen. For instance, to my oldest friend.

Eda may be the most joyful person you’ve ever met… with Alzheimer’s. Regularly I speak with her. Our friendship is as sweet as back in 1968. When we were zesty, outrageous hippies in college, renting our first apartment.

I still remember her consumer advice, offered at the supermarket: “Let’s buy the cheapest dish detergent. It will be harsh. Maybe that means it will do a better job at cutting grease!”

Fast-forward to a decade ago, when we promised that when we turned 80, how would we celebrate? Take a trip together to Fiji.

Only we’ve joked together more recently that maybe we won’t need to make that trip after all. Decidedly different perfumes color our friendship now, adding poignant new flavors of “sweet.” And maybe some “Earth umami” added to the bouquet.

What’s Eda’s latest project? Learning how to write her name.

That’s the sort of thing that can happen with elderly flowers. Much is within our control, much lies beyond.

Yet inwardly we can keep blooming: Grateful for life’s joys. Appreciating the goodness of life, which we still can find, no matter what.

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16 thoughts on “Elderly Flowers. Lessons from My Garden”

  • 1
    Julie says:

    Lovely post, Rose. I like your conclusion.

    Yes, finding the sweetness of life, wherever it can be found. And appreciating the things that can honestly be appreciated.

    In the words of The Little Prince, “That which is essential is invisible to the eye”.

    The heart likes what it likes:)

  • 2
    Julie says:

    Interestingly, from the book Messages in Water, the words that are most beautifying to water crystals, and therefore to life itself, are:

    “With love and gratitude”.

  • 3
    An Avid Reader says:

    Wishing you a happy mother’s day, Rose. Wishing the same to other mothers here reading this as well!

  • 4
    Kylie says:

    Beautiful post Rose!

  • 5
    Jean says:

    Thank you Rose for this post – and for the thoughts it contains.

    Today felt new appreciation for a slightly faded Lilac.

  • 6
    Jean says:

    Was thinking that praps its perfume was all the more refined due to the age of the blossom – could be an even better fragrance now than when it was younger.

  • 7
    Jean says:

    Well taken your point

    ‘One random change to circumstances or health and the quality of life can be gone for good.’

  • 8
    Jean says:

    Am myself grateful for RES and the work you do here at your blog and everywhere…all which sure help me to keep my circumstances, including my health and quality of life – doin OK.

  • 9
    Jean says:

    And thank you Julie for “with love and gratitude” which I will close with and extend to all…

    Moms as well as folks who are notMomsinthislifetimeyetgreatnonetheless.

  • 10
    Christine says:

    Thank you for this lovely post Rose.

    I love elderly flowers (never had a name for them before) especially tulips which are so beautiful when the stems droop and the petals open.

  • 11
    Christine says:

    My grandmother who has alzheimer’s has always adored flowers and now seems to appreciate their beauty even more when most of life had fallen away for her.

    My mother says it’s as if she is seeing each flower for the first time so finds every blossom wonderful. It makes me happy to think of that.

  • 12
    Lilian says:

    I do not throw away flowers, though my house-keeping is not wonderful … Flowers are always beautiful.

  • 13
    Lilian says:

    I’m glad you feel you’re just hitting your stride. Remember, you are Hillary Clinton’s age…

    Though I guess whatever stride you may hit in this life, you could potentially carry on in the next.

  • 14
    Lilian says:

    If there is a next one… but I have selfish objections to that happening soon. :-p

  • 15
    Lilian says:

    OK guys, I often get the feeling that most of you are older and wiser than strong-headed me. I’m so jumpy about time passing/ being wasted that it causes these weird comments.

  • 16
    Lindsey says:

    Sweet scented post Rose,thank you. I love flowers. Happy belated birthday too! 🙂 You don’t even come close to looking your age.

    Also, very happy you don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. I have so much to learn from you! 🙂

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