During the summer months, there are flowers all around us. Even those who live in cities can see a determined dandelion wedged between the sidewalk and street, or stalks of hollyhocks seemingly growing out of concrete in an alley. Most of the time we walk right by without noticing.
That is, unless we’re in the company of a child. If we let ourselves, we can see through their eyes and remember what it’s like to pick a dandelion and hold it up under our chin to see if we like butter or pick the petals one by one. We can relive the gentle memories of childhood, carefully plucking a fluffy dandelion seed head, holding it up to our mouths and blowing to give flight to the perfect little parachutes.
Flowers engage our senses with beauty and scent; touch when we feel the softness of a rose petal or the sting of its thorn, even taste, when we find a peppery nasturtium petal in a salad. Whether we are master gardeners or have a black thumb, flowers find their way into our lives and hearts on every important occasion. Consider letting them find their way into your daily life and the ongoing conversations about life with your children.
Here are a few of the topics flowers can help you introduce to your little ones.
Weeds are merely plants out of place.
Take a beautiful flower and put it in the wrong place and it becomes a weed. Take the dandelion example from above. I can still remember my mother’s dismay at the seeds floating and landing all over the lawn as my sisters and I blew with delight. Yet, others prize that same dandelion for its beauty, medicinal qualities and ability to make tea and wine. Sometimes we may feel like a plant out of place or see someone as a “weed” because they are from another place.
You can’t make a flower bloom.
We can give our flowers and plants the things they need to grow - good soil, nutrients, water and light, yet, we can’t make them grow. Try as we might, all we can do is encourage, support and wait. When the time is right, a flower will bloom with effortless grace.
Different flowers have different “superpowers”.
Some flowers smell amazing, some are beautiful, some make their own poison to defend themselves and others rely on another plant or animal to survive and reproduce.
More concepts that may help to facilitate conversation:
- Flowers don’t compare themselves with other flowers.
- Flowers don’t last forever. (They can evolve into seeds.)
- Flowers come in all colors, sizes and configurations. (Some flowers even look like animals. For fun, search for the monkey face orchid.)
- Big flowers can start as a tiny seed.
- Flowers do their best to bloom where they’re planted.
On a more practical note, be sure to educate children that some flowers are safe to eat and some can make us very sick. Even flowers we know to be edible can cause allergic reactions in some people. We also want to be careful not to let children handle or eat plant materials that have been sprayed with chemicals or purchased from a florist.