Organisation - November 27, 2014

Column: Flowers and butterflies

When I go shopping with my girlfriend on a Saturday I am often asked, ‘Be a man now and buy me a bunch of flowers.’ I totally ignore such requests. She who asks doesn’t get. Flowers? Why always flowers? Why are flowers so important?

At a meeting about flowery field edges to create a niche for the natural enemies of aphids, I asked the same question. A farmer: ‘Well, I don’t have 100 percent confidence in keeping aphids under control by growing flowers. But the nicest thing about a flowery field edge is that it makes passersby happy. They pick a bunch and if I happen to be around, they have a chat. They love it! And that makes my day, you see.’

On the way home in the car I pondered flowers a bit more. For bees, drunk on the nectar after visiting a flower, they must indeed be a seventh heaven. Total bliss. But for people? I thought back to a conversation with an organic beekeeper. ‘Flowers,’ he said, ‘are more than calyces, pistils and stigmas on a stalk. Flowers are like stationary butterflies, and butterflies are like happy fluttering flowers. They are there to be beautiful.’ An unbounded and at the same time intriguing thought like that is what makes my day. I am very glad I didn’t think of this during the meeting, because I would have blurted it out, and there’s a good chance those no-nonsense farmers would have thought me a hopelessly woolly romantic.

Butterflies are just fluttering flowers. The sort of thing you can say to your beloved. Love is unbounded too. This Friday I am going to surprise my beloved with a bunch of still stationary butterflies and ask her to let them go. A nice surprise or what?