Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Art of Flower Viewing

With these strange weather patterns here in North Carolina, flowers have been blossoming ahead of schedule. This gives us the early opportunity to admire them. Many of us enjoy the beauty of flowers, yet how many of us intentionally gaze upon them? How many of us can honestly say “I’m going to contemplate beauty and life’s impermanence, embodied by this flower.” The flower's beauty will fade, and the petals will fall away. Something may be born from the flower, or another flower will bud and blossom in its place. Life goes on while the contemplated flower's life will not. It will not last forever.  In Japan they have one word for that entire concept. Hanami.

Hanami, translated as “flower viewing,” is traditionally celebrated in Japan under cherry blossoms. During the cherry blossom season, referred to as sakura hanami, people have picnics with family, friends and intimates to celebrate. What a lovely thing to do! In Japan, the celebration of cherry blossoms and the viewing of them is followed on the flower blooming calendar  with “ume (Japanese plum), fuji (wisteria), kiku (chrysanthemum), and hasu (lotus)."

Here in the United States we have the National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington, DC. In fact it was one of Tokyo's mayors who first gifted the USA with these trees in 1912. Since then there has been continual involvement and the planting of cherry trees. Closer to home, we have the 28th annual Oakwood Garden Tour and Tea Party, coming up the weekend of May 6 & 7th, 2017

Like the gardens we plant we can cultivate ourselves. We can foster our inner poet, and see within ourselves beauty and wonder. We can realize that the seasons of our life go through a continual cycle of life, death, and rebirth. This acknowledgement fuels the passion to live a full life, does it not? Does it not put flower viewing into perspective? In one of her letters, poet and gardener Emily Dickinson wrote “If we love Flowers, are we not ‘born again’ every day?” 

With that sentiment in mind, the next time you are out walking the dog, pushing the little ones in a stroller, walking hand and hand with a special someone, or in your own good company, stop and admire the flowers! Remember to mark your calendars for the 2017 Oakwood Garden Club Tour, and begin your own practice of hanami.

Yours in beauty,

Kat J Hall


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