No matter where you go in the world, there are certain things that are always there. Like the sky. It’s comforting to see things that are reminders of home and reminders of places you love. One of the things I love about travel is the ability to see the things that surround you in your everyday life, turned around, switched around, and morphed into something new and different, even though its still the same thing.
My grandmother Ellie was a huge flower buff. She knew all the names and the genus/species categorizations for almost every flower I could name. She was fascinated with the uniqueness one thing could have amongst all its different variations. The flowers I grew up with at my house in California, were mostly gardenias, rainbow colored zinnias, agapanthus, and pink rhododendrons. These will always remind me of home, along with olive trees, grape vines, and redwood trees. As my grandmother made me conscious of all the different species of flowers, I started to notice the variations in colors and delicateness and shape as I’ve traveled around.
One of my favorite flowers in the world is bougainvillea. It grows in most hot and dry or tropical destinations, which sadly was not the Bay Area. My dad and I share our love of this flower, but since it wouldn’t grow well at home so we never were able to enjoy it there. It grows like a vine and produces the most beautiful a delicate leafy flowers of all shades of pinks, magentas, and reds. White flowers and pale pink flowers are also found, though the most iconic color is the most brilliant magenta. I’ve spotted it everywhere from Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Hawaii, to Italy, Nepal, Thailand, and Los Angeles.
One of my least favorite flowers is also one of the most treasured flowers in most of the Hindu world. The marigold, though brightly colored, is not a fragrant flower. They are also quite ordinary and carnation-y. (which I don’t mind the look of, but whenever I think of them , I picture the blue carnations in Safeway that look creepy and alien-like) Out of their ordinariness comes their importance in Hindu culture and religious practices. They are strung together by the hundred to create necklaces, scarves, decorations, and offerings. Its usually a woman’s job to work on the flowers to create the celebratory designs.
Succulents, as I’ve mentioned before, are one of my favorite flowers/plants. Aside from the fact that defy common sense by looking flower-like, being leaf colored most of the time, but actually being a type of cactus, they are always interesting and calming to look at. They are rarely colored with much other than greens and subtle reds and purples, which make them perfect for me as I so greatly enjoy drab colors. (more on this affliction another time. Those who know what my wardrobe looks like already know what I’m talking about here) They enjoy lots of sunlight and not a lot of water, so they live happily in the dry conditions of deserts, dry mountains, and southern California.
In Melbourne, the Royal Botanical Gardens are filled with blooming flowers from all over Victoria. Styled like an English garden, there are pathways around a lake, as well as fields containing flower beds brimming with brightly colored flowers and greenery. An afternoon spent here was a fun macro photography session, as well as a trip back to my travels to Giverny and my backyard.
Aside from noticing my favorites, least favorites, and relishing in floral havens, I’ve spotted many other interesting flowers on the road that have inspired me. Some have inspired me to explore integrating more color into my life. (alright, so I like my neutrals, but I guess a little color won’t hurt anyone) Some have inspired me to enjoy photography more than ever. Some have just been plain pretty.
A final treat to show you how flowers are important to me – our wedding flowers. These were a labor of love between Steven Bruce Design of New York and I. Shockingly, I was a picky picky bride who only wanted succulents and soft colors, and gardenia for my hair. It was nice to have so many beautiful flowers on that day, including some of my favorites.