Flowers, always

Jeff brought me these roses in January 2016, his last winter.

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”― Claude Monet

I was looking through my archives of January photos, and found this one from the first month of 2016. Jeff had brought me a dozen white roses for no particular reason, except that he knew I loved flowers, and I think he loved them nearly as much as I did. During the past dozen or so years, he had taken to bringing me fresh flowers on impulse when he saw a bouquet he liked. Thanks to photos the joy he gave me with those flowers lives on and warms my heart even now.

Flowers are such an important part of life, especially during the winter when we mostly dream of their return. We might tend to think of flowers as a luxury, but I think Monet was right in seeing them as indispensable. What a blessing it is for us today, that Monet loved flowers so. He left us dazzling beauty that will never fade, in his countless paintings of flowers in every form and setting. Here is just a sample of what you can see if you do a quick online image search under his name:

If you need an instant pick-me-up, try enjoying some flowers today. You need not purchase a bouquet for your home if you want to enjoy nature’s best mood therapy, although money spent on flowers is well invested. For virtually no expense at all, you can stroll through the fresh flower displays at a local grocery or garden center, or if you’d rather stay warm and cozy indoors, check out a nearby gallery or library, or just search online at the world’s most famous museums. Imagine how the artists of past centuries would envy our ability to view great works so easily!

Flowers feed the soul, as the poet has said. May they bring joy to your heart today, and always, and always.


  1. Mike

    I have to say ,”Way to go Jeff.” This is a column i need to get to my DIL who feels flowers are a selfish fleeting indulgence not worthy of our investment. “Why spend money on something so transient, fleeting? Well why not.

    • Mike, for those who feel flowers are a waste of money, I’d probably avoid giving any to that person. I understand, approve of, and sympathize with practicality. But for me, some things transcend strict definitions of “practical.” Besides, what I have learned irrevocably in the past few years is: everything is transient and fleeting. If we think otherwise, whether of bank accounts or houses or land or cars or any other concrete possession, we are kidding ourselves. Paradoxically, the only things that truly last are those things we can’t see at all. Including the joy we feel at something as lovely as a flower.

  2. Raynard

    Julia too many people make excuses not to buy flowers. I got hold of the flower bug back in the 90’s.So After watching gardening shows on PBS and This Old House I planted a rose garden. Did I mention I grew up in NYC with a hydrangeas garden in the middle of the backyard.I seen a chart to tell you what all the colors mean. I think for Mary’s birthday I might do blue roses. Something different. Thank you for sharing and I will send you pictures of a candy board birthday card I will be making.This will be the first time I’m not baking. Going with one of those custom picture cakes. If I can just find a old picture. Maybe one when she attended nursing school. I told her that nursing cap she wore use to be a old Chinese takeout food container. I digress.

    • Raynard, I just love that wedding photo of the two of you that I asked you to send me awhile back. That would make a wonderful cake photo. That cracks me up about the nursing cap that could have been a takeout food container. I never made the connection but that’s a perfect analogy. I’ve seen quite a few of those myself although I’ve been told that each nursing school has its own version. No, I never knew about the hydrangea garden in NYC, but that strikes me as the best of both worlds. What not to love about being in the world’s most exciting city and yet still having a bit of nature to cut through the disadvantages of urban life? Hydrangeas must do well in cities. Lombard Street in San Francisco has a glorious display of them, or at least it used to. Yes, I can tell from your trips to the Philadelphia flower show that you definitely caught the flower bug. I’m thinking of planting some roses around my new patio. I’m not fond of dealing with the thorns, but they bloom so profusely and for such a long time with relatively little care and attention.

  3. Carolyn

    Flowers are so special to get. Terry is like Jeff was, for no reason, he would come in with flowers. He will say , no reason, just wanted you to have some. I will be glad when we can plant flowers for the spring and summer. Just found out that Emma will graduate June 15th, so we will be coming your way. Looking forward to seeing you and Matt. Hugs to you sweet friend.

    • Carolyn, I was so excited to read this! I have written you into my planner. Remember, if you want to stay with us, we have plenty of room and we can have coffee or tea nearly round the clock if you want. 😀 We might even talk Terry into cooking out on my new patio, hee-hee. I don’t have a grill but with the right incentive I could certainly get one.

  4. MaryAnn Clontz

    What a pleasant post! Such a lovely “gift” you found in your photo archives! Flowers show how God has SO many designs & colors on His palette.
    Sending smiles & love!

    • Mary Ann, thank you for your kind words. Yes, God is the greatest creator of all time and the variety of flowers we have to enjoy is stunning. I often think how remarkable it is that there are so many vastly different kinds of dogs, but there must be hundreds of times more kinds of flowers. When I am feeling really sad, I think of such wonders and it puts a smile on my face in spite of the grief. Speaking of putting a smile on my face…we are OVERJOYED to learn you will soon be here to visit us! I’m guessing we will all three be hoarse by the end of the week, from endless talking, joking and laughing! 😀 Maybe before you come, I should learn sign language as a back up! (I seem to remember you already know some ASL?) 😀

      • Susan

        Julia, I also love flowers. Nearly all of my shirts and dresses have flower prints. I’ve spent today going through catalogs to order flowers to plant in the spring. As you know, we have small yards here but I still squeeze in as many as I can! How very thoughtful of Jeff to treat you so often in a way that he knew you loved so much. Mary Ann, my husband once said that flowers are proof of God’s existence because they don’t have a practical purpose but bring beauty and joy. (He always has pink roses delivered to me on our anniversary because that’s what I carried at our wedding.)

        • Susan, I smiled when I read about your shirts and dresses with flower prints. Once when I was buying several items of clothing, the (much younger than me) salesclerk said “You really like flowers, don’t you?” Until that moment I had never realized how much I liked floral prints. Isn’t it wonderful to dream of spring planting during the cold of winter? Now that my patio is finished, I hope you can come give me some advice about what to put in the planting beds. By the way, pink is my favorite color for roses. How romantic of your husband to give you a “floral flashback” to your wedding day each year! His comment about the flowers reminded me of the quote I used for this post, which coincidentally features a pink rose!

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Positively, we will use up our voices! When I think of you & Matt, a huge smile & warm feeling of delight lift me UP! I learned SEE: Signing Exact English. It was created by a group of women who all had hearing-impaired children. They wanted them to learn how to write like books were written. That is the way I taught songs at Solano Christian Academy. ASL is what adults use. It is VERY difficult for me to “read” what they are saying. I have discovered when I am signing to a deaf adult, the person is so patient with me. They are glad a hearing person took the time to learn their language. I want to teach you & Matt how to sign, Jesus loves me. Another wonderful thing we will be doing!

        • Mary Ann, I can recall a wee bit of ASL so we will have fun comparing signs. The qualifiers always threw me for a loop and yes, when people go fast I can almost never figure out what they are saying. But as you say, most of them are very patient with hearing people. I’ve found this to be so with any language I try to learn, whether trying to speak French in France, or the teeny-tiny bit of Chinese or Italian I learned, those who know the language are very gracious to help me and not laugh at my clumsy mistakes. I’m amazed at some of my immigrant friends and neighbors who had to learn not only another spoken language, but a completely new alphabet. Language fascinates me.

  5. Dorothy

    Dear Julia,
    I so much agree with your sentiments about flowers. Today I have a vase of lilies and daisies and a vase of golden roses. Of course it is summer here so easy to find something out in the garden. However because our winters are mild compared to yours It is not often That I cannot find flowers to pick all year round. Neil loved the garden and we tried to plant so that there would always be something flowering all year. I find it hard to believe that it is almost three years since Neil died, and the passion he had for the garden has been passed on to me and gives me such joy. Thinking of you and Matt often with love💐

    • Hi Dorothy, it is always such a joy to hear from you. It warms my heart to think of your fresh flowers, and also to know that you have lovely weather for gardening all year round, and enjoyed that with Neil. (Did you know my oldest son’s middle name is Neil? A great name, I think.) Somehow I had forgotten that Neil died such a short time before Jeff did. For me, the grief is still very present and raw. You seem to be doing much better with it than I am. Do you ever feel sad when you are in the garden without him there? The other day my sister and I were daydreaming about places we’d like to visit, and I asked her whether she ever wanted to go to Australia. She answered with a very enthusiastic YES and almost immediately I thought, if we do ever get over to NSW I will have to look you up and perhaps we can all have tea together. One thing is for certain — I would want to go in January or February! The cold weather is why we were daydreaming of warmer climates. My sister has a February birthday so a trip to Australia would be a great birthday celebration and the perfect excuse to get away from the cold.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I really have been here!👋🏻 I seemed to be so distracted by various aspects of “scattered thoughts” that I didn’t dare put that in a comment. I went in search of a date on one of your photos that I’ve used as my iPad wallpaper for several years. It’s a tulip garden that you shared from a trip. Do you remember the photo? 🌷The white roses are so beautiful and probably my favorite choice. They spell LOVE, loud and clear! I hope y’all are doing well, dodging the crud that seems to be infecting so many. Five weeks later and we’re still recovering from it! 😷 Can Spring be far away? 💛

    • Sheila, sometimes I think that being distracted by scattered thoughts is a way of life I can’t avoid! I’m so happy you like the tulip photo. It’s hard to do justice to those fabulous gardens, but the photo does give a good hint. So far Matt and I have managed to escape the seasonal ailments; I had a very brief cold but hit it hard with echinacea tea, which may or may not have helped — but in any case, it was much shorter in duration than the usual cold. FIVE WEEKS is a very long time! You owe yourself an escape to someplace warm when it passes. Meanwhile, as I write this, I’m snowed in. I was about to go out and shovel my walkway and sidewalks when I saw to my surprise there was NO SNOW on them. What? Was it melting already, and just in those spots? Hardly; my new front doorbell camera revealed my lovely neighbors had busily shoveled the entire walkway and sidewalk for me! I think a delivery of fresh flowers is in order! 😀 Spring does seem far away at times, but it will be here before we know it — take heart, my friend, and be well soon! ❤

  7. I totally agree, yet have a hard time “treating” myself to flowers.
    I might just go buy some tomorrow because of your post, though . ❤

    • Denise, I confess that here, as in so many other areas, I need to take my own advice. I have a very hard time buying fresh cut flowers for myself. I’m a bit more likely to buy something potted that I can plant later, such as primroses (when I can find them) but even that I do only rarely. Let’s challenge each other to treat ourselves sometime within the next 30 days! Reporting back is optional. 🙂

      • Deal!! I like accountability!

        • So do I. In theory, anyway. 😀

  8. Good morning, Julia!
    Monet is my favorite. The colors are always lovely.
    I don’t recall; was it you, who shared this website?
    Love and many flowers to you! 😀

    • Susan, I’m not sure whether I sent you to that link or not, but I too love Monet. For the retirement vacation that I so elaborately planned for almost a year before it was cruelly taken from us, one of the planned stops was a visit to Giverny to see the real-life gardens that inspired Monet. Perhaps you and I can plan another crazy jaunt, this time across the Atlantic to see what Jeff and I missed in 2016? Meanwhile — love and flowers right back to you, from the snowy landscape that doubtless is more familiar to you than to me!

      • Ann

        I took a river cruise that included a stop at Giverny. Highly recommend for you and Susan. Will send you details if you are interested.

        • Ann, thanks! I will let you know if we start making any definite plans.

  9. Mike

    You need to take that jaunt to Giverny someday. Monet had some mad artisitic gifts.Did not Van Gogh also paint some wonderful flower picts? I think Imentioned the Botanical gardens at UGA Athens- also very beautiful and I hope to return. The UGA garden at Savannah were so so- and I was chased out of the orchid house there by an overzealous emplpyee/volunteer.
    I still have notmade it down to the Atlanta botanical gardens here or out to Gibbls garden with their 50 acres of daffodils. Sounds like a lot. Can this be real?

    • Mike, I saved an article about the amazing Gibbs Gardens from an old issue of Southern Living that ran a feature story on it just as it was opening for the first time. I might send it to you sometime. It was quite a labor of love for him, and apparently many years in the planning and planting. I think it’s definitely for real, though. He was a patient gardener who apparently did not demand instant gratification. A win for us now. I hope someday to see those gardens, especially since the daffodil has always been my favorite flower.

      • Beth

        Julia, I surprised Mom with a visit to Gibbs Gardens several years ago. An amazing place that’s “bucket list” worthy. I bought two bags of daffodils and they’re coming along nicely. I took a number of pictures and I’ll share them when I run them down to earth. Mom said she’d like to visit again.


        • Beth, thanks for that tip. We’d all enjoy seeing the photos. Please give your Mom my love. I think of both of you so often!

  10. Mike

    Also I may have mentioned this-probably – that many now buy little affordable orchids which last sometimes for months as a cut flower alternative. Including me.And sometimes they survive-but usually I overwater them, as they only need like a spoonful a week of water.

    • I bought one of those orchids for a friend several years ago. She was in the hospital and did not have much luck keeping it alive after she got home. I’ve wondered whether I could keep one alive. I might try and see what happens. They are beautiful.

  11. Mike

    I actually shouted myself- as they say in Australia – a year long pass/membership to Gibbs garden. They have a two for one membership special in January and if we go twice it will pay for itself. I can’t really imagine 50 acres of Daffodils so we will see.
    We has a quick trip to Seattle for my sister’s memorial and the weather was mild. I was dissapointed that none of her highschool or college friends showed up. But she has been in a nursing home for some time- over a year.
    The garden opens on March Ist.
    Trader Joes in Alpharetta has some great orchids for like 12 dollars.

    • Hooray, Mike, we will be eagerly awaiting a Gibbs Garden review soon. It should be bursting into full glory within a few weeks, I guess, especially if the ground hog is right. I’m glad you had mild weather for your sister’s memorial. As people get older, the sad truth is that the number of those who come to the funeral goes down, and that’s especially true if they have been in any sort of assisted care. So often, out of sight is out of mind. But also, it’s likely that those of her friends who survived her, may have health issues of their own, or a loved one’s, that make attending such events more difficult. Not too many years before my parents died, my sister overheard Mama discussing their funeral plans, and Daddy pointed out to her, “Sybil, there won’t be many people left to come to our funerals!” 🙂 Actually there were a good many people at both his memorial services, though not as many at Mama’s; she too was in a nursing home the last year of her life. But for both their funerals, there were fewer there than there would have been even a decade earlier. Such is the nature of life as we age. Hey, you are right, Trader Joe’s is a great source for flowers! I always stop by and admire them even though I very rarely actually buy any.

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