Homage to flowers with Shakespeare’s help

Longer days, blue skies, vaccinations, and flowers are the best treatments to erase the winter and Covid blues, and lately I’ve been able to experience them all. But there’s no guarantee of daily sun until after the Fourth of July; it will take until mid-June for days to reach their full length; and now that two months have passed since our last shot, vaccination excitement is waning.

However, I can count on flowers to cheer me from now till October. Any blooms the spring has to offer bring me joy. I’ve asked William Shakespeare, to help me with this blog. We might know him more of a connoisseur of roses and violets, but he has much to say about many flowers.

‘At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.’ Love’s Labours Lost

That come before the swallow dared, and take
The winds of March with beauty.’ The Winter’s Tale

Shakespeare and I are not alone in our appreciation of flowers. Researchers at the University of Rutgers in New Jersey, found that “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. And study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.”

It’s true that women reacted more visibly to flowers than did the men in a separate study, but the men who received flowers also “increased their social behavior and expressed extraordinary delight.”

‘Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.’ The Winter’s Tale

The Rutgers study is cited widely by florists, which made me question whether FTD had funded it. But if the research was just a way to support flower sales, why do hospitals have flower shops and why do people take blooms to visit the sick? Because flowers can help heal. “Park and Mattson conducted a study in 2008 and found that patients in hospital rooms decorated with flowers and potted plants needed less postoperative pain medication, had lower systolic blood pressure and pulse rates, were less anxious and tired, and generally were in a more positive psychological state than patients in rooms without flowers.”



There’s more to spring blooms than color, as in the sweet scents that come from the daphne odora and rosemary bushes above.

‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.’Hamlet

Studies show us another group that benefits from flowers: office workers.

A Texas A&M University study found that in the business world, “workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem-solving skills improve substantially in workplace environments that include flowers and plants.”

‘There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy’ Hamlet

My lavender, day lilies, and rock roses will keep me content until July, and by then the dahlias and zinnias will have me smiling. The season of flowers has begun and it will be a long and rewarding one.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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2 Responses to Homage to flowers with Shakespeare’s help

  1. Marilyn Pedersen says:

    Amen! 🙏

  2. Darlene Bishop says:

    Wonderful blog—maybe one of my favorites. Thank you for combining research and Shakespeare surrounding a theme of flowers—very enjoyable read!

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