The Positive Effect of Flowers
Flowers can improve emotional health according to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers University. This may go some way toward explaining why people have cultivated flowers for more than 5000 years although there was no known reward for this costly behavior. “The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.” In focusing on eating right, exercising, and getting sufficient quality sleep, we may have missed the positive effect of flowers on our health.
If you are not a morning person even after a restful night’s sleep, consider placing flowers on your nightstand, bathroom counter, or kitchen table so you see them when you roll out of bed, jump in the shower, or grab your first cup of coffee. A behavioral study conducted at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found participants reported being happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the morning. Research from the University of North Florida shows people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods. Dr. Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones, the director of the Rutgers’ study shares, “Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room.”
Over the years, I have been given some beautiful books on flowers and herbs including a six volume Standard Cyclopedia of Horiculture printed in 1917. It is not for casual reading. By far, the most beautiful of these books is The Book of Flowers, which is filled with hundreds of engravings by French flower painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) who captured the diversity of flowering plants in water colors. Leaving this book open to display any of the engravings adds color to the room and creates some of the same positive feelings as the flowers themselves.
The Language of Flowers
In the Victorian Era of the 1800s, there was an intricate language spoken through flowers. The hand with which flowers were given could provide the “yes” or “no” answer to a question, the direction in which the ribbon was tied told whether the symbolism and sentiment expressed by the flowers applied to the giver or the recipient, and the choice of flower spoke volumes. When it came to roses, one needed to choose carefully as each color represented a specific emotion: red roses spoke of love and yellow roses of jealousy. There remains symbolism in the flowers chosen by a bride for her bouquet. The all-white bouquet carried by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William “had lily-of-the-valley (representing trustworthiness, purity), sweet William (gallantry), hyacinth (loveliness), myrtle (love in marriage), and ivy (continuity). Altogether, these flowers’ meanings reveal the hope of a loving, everlasting marriage.” Although it is fun to read about the language and symbolism historically associated with flowers, we recommend you choose the type and color that make you the happiest.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, you can bring some of those flowers into your bed and bathroom. If you are not a gardener, it is easy enough to pick them up at the store or the florist.
Be sure to leave the bugs outside. You can do that by carefully examining the flowers before you snip them. If you see bugs, rinse the flowers with a gentle stream of water or a solution of water and Dawn dishwashing detergent. You should test your soap solution in a small area to be sure you will not damage your plants. Once you bring the freshly cut flowers into the house, whether they are freshly-picked or purchased, place the stems in water immediately.
If you are up to a challenge, or simply want to enjoy some beautiful photos, check out these Floral Arrangement Ideas on marthastewart.com or How to Arrange Flowers on architecturaldigest.com. If you are a mere mortal, select your favorite flowers, place them in the desired container, and add water. Whether it is one rose in a teacup or a bouquet of tulips in a glass vase, they should bring a smile to your face.
If cut flowers do not last long enough, consider potted flowers. Orchids are ubiquitous and they are often available on the way to checkout at the grocery store. They are a living, as opposed to a cut flower, so the blooms last for months. Forcing bulbs in pots is another way to enjoy flowers inside for some length of time. Watching them grow is an added benefit you will not get with cut flowers.
After a Great Night’s Sleep with Down Etc, Wake Up to Flowers
Do not wait for a special occasion or for someone else to present you with a bouquet. Give yourself the gift of flowers. It will be good for you.