Intended for solace

A flower merchant decorates a sidewalk in Barcelona, May 2008.

A flower merchant decorates a sidewalk in Barcelona, May 2008.

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”  — John Ruskin

You’ve probably noticed that I have been intentionally choosing themes that are linked in some way to the posts I did on the same day one year ago.  The first couple of times when this happened accidentally and readers commented on it, I realized it was a helpful way to narrow down potential topics.  It enables me to get the posts done more quickly.  So I plan to continue this unless readers start complaining that the links are repetitive.  I’ll try to keep them different enough to be worth glancing at again.

It does seem that the first day of February is an excellent time to start anticipating springtime, which for many of us means anticipating flowers.  Ruskin is right; natural beauty, so colorfully epitomized by flowers, is universally available for appreciation (even though some of the more fabulous views may have limited accessibility due to location, ownership or entrance fees).

Flowers, though, bloom everywhere, and are cultivated and harvested by talented gardeners and merchants who want to spread the joy.  If you can’t visit a botanical garden, there are still displays to be found wherever there are people.  I just love it that grocery stores often feature floral departments with fresh flowers in abundance.  I can hardly run into a grocery, even for one or two items, without taking a minute or two to enjoy their colors and fragrance.

I hope you will make some time today (or soon) to seek out the solace of flowers.  They are visual music, a balm for the spirit and food for the soul!

One year ago today

I still hear the sound


  1. The Editors of Garden Variety

    Oh I truly will. Thank you so much!

    • Thanks so much for visiting! I just pinned this post from your site on my Pinterest garden page!

      • The Editors of Garden Variety

        Thank you so much, Julia. You are too kind. 🙂

        • My pleasure, I look forward to visiting your site again! Especially at this time of year. 🙂

  2. No complaints! I am enjoying the way you are linking to your past posts. A wonderful reason to read them again! Thank you for sharing your life and thinking! I have find a new lesson everyday. Ladd and I continue to pray for you and Jeff, the boys and Drew’s sweet family. Hope you are staying warm! I think your weather has been colder than Colorado! Love, Fran


    • Thanks so much Franny! I didn’t even realize you were reading the blog. Amy and I were talking about you the other night (were your ears burning?) and I just have to tell you what we said – she was talking about her house being messy (NOT!) and I said “Oh, come on Amy, your house on a messy day is better than mine on a clean day – you are the best housekeeper I know” and she said “What about Franny?” And I said, “OK, not counting Fran” and she said “I know, Fran doesn’t count, she’s not a real person!” – meaning you are like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way” and have a SUPER HUMAN clean house! We were mostly joking of course but we do admire your lovely home. I can’t help but wonder if having grandchildren visit makes a difference 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words and prayers. We are warming up here and the snow is starting to melt. You are right about the sunshine making it seem so much less cold even in the snow. Love to you and all your family!

  3. sarvjit

    Flowers are a perfect example of Nature’s beauty and efficiency. They are free-flowing poems which when given music, turn into fruits. The fruit gives seed – a new life. This cycle continues and gives all the creatures a moment of joy.

    • It’s true Sarvjit, everything about flowers is beneficial– even the pollens which give some people allergies, also give us HONEY! 🙂 They are stunning in appearance, variety and usefulness.

  4. raynard

    Julia the Annual Philadelphia Flower show starts next month. Going to buy my tickets soon. I know you have a lot going on. I’m going to share with you my pictures and videos. Its the least I can do for all you have done for others with your daily dose of encouragement. Another saying I heard “Bloom where you are planted,I take that to mean your neighborhood, job and your city and state.Oh forgot to tell you there was a library convention in Philadelphia last month.I promise not to call Librarian’s “bookies’ lol be blessed

    • Raynard, since we still don’t even know when Matt’s surgery is going to be, we are afraid to make any plans, but if not this year, maybe we can make it to the flower show next year. At least we will have your photos and videos to enjoy! “Bloom where you are planted” is a favorite saying among military families, one that we have to learn whether we like it or not, with all the moves that are required of us. Yes, the ALA had their midwinter meeting in PHL this year. That’s one thing I really miss about working. A library meeting is totally fun, as I’m sure you can imagine. It’s great to be surrounded by book lovers and some of my favorite authors, and talk books and library talk all day and every evening for a few days! It’s even more fun if I am buying books for a school or public library, since that gives me a bigger budget and a place to put them. Maybe one day I’ll start working again if I’m not too old to be hired. Til then maybe I can plan to attend some of these meetings as a retiree on reduced rates. 🙂

  5. Michael

    Missed your post on UR site yesterday. Psalm 34 is also a favorite. Right now we have some pink carnations that I bought for two dollars, in a vase on the counter, now in bloom. Such a cheap thrill in winter.
    That looks like a bouquet of Amaryllis in the picture. We have some great outdoor flower markets at the Seattle Pike place market also.

    • Michael, isn’t Psalm 34 beautiful? It’s kind of cool to find out after all these years that it’s actually an acrostic poem. I might have heard that before, but had forgotten it. I just love carnations. They seem to last forever, and they come in such brilliant colors. (I’m sure most of them are dyed that way, but that doesn’t spoil the beauty for me.) I think urban planners should subsidize flower stands everywhere. They beautify city streets like nothing else, and provide an ever-changing display that requires no maintenance by the city.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, the glorious moment that we knew was quickly approaching came this afternoon. As we gathered by Dad’s bedside and commenced to read a bible verse, he entered into his eternal life, opening his eyes and looking skyward. We knew that it was a beautiful beginning, so we continued reading, knowing that he would approve of that. And we really knew in our hearts that he approved of how this day was orchestrated by God so perfectly! Thank you for your love and prayers. Sheila

    • Sheila, I am so sorry that you have lost your Dad’s company here on earth, but happy that his passing was so peaceful and really, almost ideal. I had been thinking about all of you tonight and wondering what was happening. Thanks so much for keeping us posted. I know that I and many readers of this blog will be keeping all of you in our prayers. I am glad today’s post was about solace, and I hope you are able to find much of it in your beautiful memories. Love and sympathy!

      • Sheila, I join Julia in these thoughts and prayers.

        • Thank you Eric!

      • Sheila

        Julia, I wanted to add that the fitting scripture that we were reading to Dad was Psalm 121. Truly, The Lord is his keeper. Thank you for your kind words and support. 🙏 Sheila

        • Yes, that is the perfect scripture for someone who from Bristol, isn’t it? I have been keeping you close in thought and prayer.

  7. Michael

    Prayers for Sheila’s family.

  8. One of the reasons, I love retirement in Florida is I get to enjoy my container flower garden all year round. I, too, love flowers.

    • Retirement in Florida sounds great for a number of reasons right now (at this time of year)! I am gradually getting better at container gardening, although I probably don’t re-pot them as often as I should. Usually I dig up our begonias and put them in pots for the winter, but put them back out into the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed. I am happy you have been safely away from all the ice and snow that has hit much of the rest of the country. Florida is a flower lover’s paradise! Thanks for being here with us today, and for your comment.

  9. Flowers and Books…life sweetest treasures!
    I do enjoy beautiful flowers. thanks for sharing with us on this snow bound day.
    Thank you for your sweet card. 🙂

    • Merry, you’re welcome! Every year at this time I start thinking about flowers even more than usual – I’m sure there will be more photos of them to come! Hope you have a wonderful week.

  10. Sheila

    Julia, it really means so much to read the kind words of others here. Thank you, Eric and Michael. “Defeat Despair” seems so appropriate! Hope things are well with all of you. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, you have been such a bright influence here, I am sure many more are thinking about you and praying for you. I was thinking especially about Bill tonight, and how hard it is to say “good-bye” to the kind of father EVERYONE needs, but too few of us have! Blessings to all your family. Thank you for letting us get to know Bill’s Dad a little bit over the past year; it helps us understand the depth of your loss. I hope you have a week of comfort and consolation.

  11. My SIL Adele would love you post today. Thankfully, our economy is on an upswing in Alberta and people will spend money on these little luxuries. During the lean years, when more people are prioritizing their bills, flowers are easily given up. Are they very expensive in your hometown? Whenever we were Teleflora’ing an order out east, it was easily
    $15-$20 for the exact same thing because they had to add so much more for shipping to the cost of each flower. I don’t often buy flowers for inside because the cats are relentless about chewing and pawing on them. But it’s still fun to have them arrive at the door, you feel so special don’t you? I was really tempted at our market by a Jasmine plant that was shaped into a heart trellis because it smelled so yummy. But I resisted, I just stood at the market and inhaled deeply for 5 minutes. xoK

    • Yes, fresh flowers are definitely a luxury that goes by the wayside in tough times. Actually I’m so frugal I rarely order them for myself or anyone else, but what we do is pick them up on markdown from the grocery store and sometimes we get amazing deals. Jeff brings them home and I arrange them and they usually last for 5-7 days at least. The flowers in this photo were two bunches and I believe we got them for a total of less than $10! (of course that was without the container). But at that price, we can’t resist. We find them mostly just after holidays when they have a lot in stock and then mark down whatever doesn’t sell. Sometimes I can add some greenery or a flower or two from our yard too.

      • Here we are talking about flowers today and guess what? I GOT flowers today! I don’t know what I did to deserve such a beautiful gift but they’re from Alys. I just love her so much. They smell gorgeous, with hyacinth, Stock, Hydrangea, Freesia and Aster….have a look-see

        I’m being spoilt rotten by all you lovely ladies, you might create a monster, mwa ha ha ha 😀 I do like to arranged market flowers too. I’ve learned a few tricks working for Adele and while I’m not a pro it’s fun to dabble around with your own vase and bargain flowers. Loved the colours in your market flowers, I can’t believe you got all that for $10.00 😀

        • WOW, thanks so much for sending this photo. Those flowers are gorgeous and the colors are SO Alys. Elegant and friendly. You could never be spoilt rotten – you give back more than you take in so that keeps everything fresh and new! 🙂

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