Flowers have an expression

Bromileads (we think) on display just inside the door to the Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in DC, March 2013

Bromileads (we think) bloom just inside the Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington DC March 2013

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright…” Henry Ward Beecher

On a recent visit to the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, I was delighted to see the beautiful flowers pictured above, growing just inside the front window.  Unlike most flowers at the Smithsonian, these did not have any labels that named or described them.  I asked around, and staff were not certain either, but the general consensus was that they were some form of bromilead.

When I came home I did a bit of research and found out some fascinating facts about this particular family of flowers.  They are incredibly diverse in appearance, ranging from the pineapple (surprised? I was) to Spanish moss (which is neither Spanish, nor moss) to brilliant varieties similar to the one pictured above.  I thought of Beecher’s quote when I saw these flowers, which certainly have an expression unlike most others.  How would you describe them?  Words that come to mind for me are cheerful, serene, elegant, and vivacious.  I hope they will brighten your day as they did mine!


  1. Perky. That was my answer. By way of separate comment, and relating to your recent discussion of what is and is not exotic; allow me to express the opinion that your blog has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a current photo, accompanied by your own newly-acquired information! Three days ago, I was so moved by a photo (I had previously never seen), that was thirty-some-odd years old. Similarly, you have posted photos from the early years of this century that invoke memories, both pleasant, and less than. Again, in my opinion: when current photography and information is alternated with “scenes from the past”, an extra dimension is made available, and without intending a pun, there results a freshness in your blog. All of it, mind you, is truly GREAT work!

    • Eric, thanks so much for your kind words about the blog. I do try to get out and make photos whenever I can; I’ll have some current ones coming up soon. I don’t want to get so lost in the past that I miss what’s happening right under my nose. I agree the flowers look perky!

  2. Sheila

    Julia, thank you for the flowers! PRETTY IN PINK….hope this “bouquet” is an omen for a beautiful week. Sheila

    • I just love pink, all shades of it, and since I’m the only female in the family I don’t get to decorate with it 🙂 so it’s nice to have it in some photos. I hope this week is a beautiful one for all of us who visit here!

  3. singleseatfighterpilot

    And of course there are the recent photos of the trees of the Tidal Basin, but my mind’s “autofile” had just put those into that wonderfully warm and fuzzy group of photos of Maggie and her folks 🙂

    • Actually your mind’s autofile was correct; the photos I posted earlier were both made with Maggie’s family back in the 70’s sometime. In a few days I’ll be posting one I took last week. Since I schedule my posts ahead of time, I had to use photos I already had.

  4. Carlyle

    My immediate thought when I read your blog was of the angry expressions I see on our pansies:-)

    • Angry pansies?!! Are they upset about the weather?

  5. The picture instantly reminded me of pineapple, as the plant is abundant in our part of the world. Loved the colour and feel it has the innocence of a picture created by a little child.

    • Thanks Bindu, I’m so glad you like it! After I read that the pineapple is a bromilead, I looked more closely at the photo and could see a resemblance, although I wouldn’t have spotted it on my own. You are very lucky to have abundant pineapple! I miss having fresh pineapple every day as we did when we lived in Hawaii. They were inexpensive and the grocery stores would peel and core them for us free, which made it super easy to enjoy all we wanted. The canned version is certainly inferior in taste to a fresh, ripe pineapple. A delicious healthy treat! Thanks for being here. Hope you have a wonderful week.

  6. merry

    “pretty in pink” fits the flowers. they do remind me of pineapple plants~/.

    • I could see the resemblance once I read about it, but for some reason I didn’t see it at first. I guess the pink color threw me off.

  7. Exurberant, spirited and bosterous come to my mind. Like ‘look out me!!!’ How could you not? Like a woman who wears her lipstick really bright, they beg to be noticed.

    • Hey, that’s a good analogy! You can’t possibly walk by them without seeing them.

  8. Ah, that’d be Exuberant and boisterous……LOL what a rotten speller I am.

    • Not to worry, in these days of autocorrect, many of us are getting poor at spelling. Just take a look at Eric’s comment! 🙂

      • The sad thing is, I spot nothing unusual 😀 O dear, LOL

  9. Beautiful! That’s the oft used word that comes to my mind. I have tried my hand at several bromeliads through the years….without much success. I must be missing a link somewhere about their care. I love them!!

    • Carla, I think it’s mostly to do with the weather, because they’re a tropical flower. Am I imagining things or did Mom grow some of those when we lived in Miami? I tried to grow anthuriums when we lived in Hawaii and despite doing everything I was told, I could never get them to bloom very much. I’m glad there are experts who know how to grow these tropical flowers for us to enjoy. Absolutely gorgeous.

  10. Kathy

    Festive! It’s Fiesta time here in San Antonio and these fit right in with happy colors!

    • Oh, I love Fiesta time! Yes, those flowers would fit right in. Wish I could take a quick visit back to San Antonio right now. You’ll have to enjoy it for both of us.


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