Flowers, pots and seeds.

When you see an arrangement of flowers on the table, what can we feel?

  1. Joy in the heart?
  2. Want to smell it?
  3. Indifference?

And … after a few days or weeks, when they wither, and the petals start to fall on the table? What would the feeling be?

You may not have thought about it yet, but when we picked a flower, we decreed, at that moment, her death. Certainly, if it weren’t pulled out, it would also wither one day.

Its petals will dry out and, one by one, they will fall to the ground, at the feet of the plant that generated it. There the aerial life of that flower ends. Yet another adventure begins right there. Terrestrial insects, beetles, ants and other small beings, cut and bite these dry petals, in smaller and smaller pieces, increasing the contact surface between them and the soil.

If the petals has fallen on the grass, or on some leaves, there is no problem. The first rains will move the already small pieces downwards, until they touch the ground. The terrestrial stage of the life of this flower is then marked by much smaller organisms, invisible to the naked eye. Actinomycetes and decomposing fungi start the microbial decomposition stage.

Sugar, cellulose and other original substances in the flower are digested by these microorganisms. Then, and even simultaneously, even smaller beings come into play: the bacteria, to carry out the final transformation of the remaining material, releasing water and carbon dioxide. At all stages of this process, new organic substances are formed dynamically and mineral elements are solubilized in the soil solution.

Plants, through their roots, participate in this dynamic, sometimes releasing, sometimes absorbing these substances and elements. Vegetative growth and microbial decomposition are the two halves of the same wheel, which rotates, now above, now below the soil. Half light, half dark, half leaf, half root, half visible, half invisible. The cycle of life!

Let’s go back to the flowers on the table. Where will those petals go when they wither and fall? To the garbage? Will they travel in plastic bags, on trucks, to a landfill? Together with other residues, will they be part of a fetid and sour fermentation?

Well, we know that, in the end, everything (even our bodies!) will turn into soil. But… wouldn’t those flowers deserve a better destination? After being plucked from the mother plant, used to brighten hearts, perfume and decorate environments, they could be better discarded.

I will give some suggestions:

1st) If the flowers were from your garden, or from a vase; when they dry, simply place them at the foot of the plant that originated them.

2nd) If you bought the flowers, also discard them in your garden, or in a vase, so that they complete their cycle, even if it’s in other lands, other than those that generated it.

I know that buying flowers is much more practical, but I would like you to consider, from time to time, bringing a flowered vase. Besides, probably the flowers will last longer, there will be the possibility of transferring the plant, definitely, to the soil. This would give her a little more autonomy, less dependence on us.

By the way, I want to talk a little bit about addiction. When we pick flowers from a plant, we bring home his greatest work of art. You may find it strange, but to me, in a way, it is like the act of trapping a bird in a cage. We imprison its song, its colors, what is most beautiful, and bring it to our home.

Perhaps it would be better to leave flowers and birds free in the wild. I believe they are an invitation, which she makes us, to go “out there”, in the garden, in the square, in the countryside. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, knows that we are part of it, that we need this interaction, if we are to be happier, more complete, balanced.

We will always have, of course, the freedom of choice, but nature shows us, at all times, its limits, if we want to continue our existence as a human society. By planting flowers in the garden, instead of cutting and taking them home, we give you greater autonomy. They can explore a larger volume of soil, receive rain directly, interact with soil microorganisms.

Similarly, the closer we keep the people (already big!) that we love, the more dependent on us they become. By disengaging our love from the need to own the object or loved one, we take a big step towards freedom. Ours and those we love.

From time to time, maybe we should give people seeds. That way they would have the freedom to plant them wherever and whenever they wanted. They would exercise more caring and waiting. They would learn more about the cycles of life. They would be more delighted with the processes and the paths. And… this would perhaps reduce their anxiety about arrivals…

Antonio N. S. Teixeira
Executive Director – IBA

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