Guest post: “A Flower’s Song” by John G. Stamos

It gives me great pleasure to present this week’s guest post—the first ever on Grammaticus. Written by John G. Stamos, ‘A Flower’s Song’ is a wonderful essay on the beauty of flowers and the joy they can give us.

John is an accomplished gardener and garden designer from Michiana Shores, Indiana, and the man behind the Renaissance Garden Guy blog. I can’t recommend his writings enough: if you are interested in gardening, but also topics such as literature and the arts, make sure you bookmark his blog and visit it often.

When you look at a flower, what do you hear?

In the part of the world where I live, the winter is often long, cold, and bleak.  Its frigid blasts stretch an abyssal pall over the ground, and they darken my heart.  But even at these times, within the longest shadows of winter’s grimmest hour, I do not lose hope.  I know that as this icy season eventually relaxes its wicked grip on the land, and the days begin to warm, the coming of balmy spring, with summer following on its heels, will whisper a promise on the gently shifting wind.  This promise, for me, is a promise filled with flowers.

In the spring and summer on my land, flowers grow everywhere.  In the forest, wild prunella, clover, dandelion, and fugitive daffodil blooms enchant whitetail deer as they wander their secret paths among the trees. Within the little world of my own garden, a procession of flowers begins its undulating march in the waning days of winter, and drifts of blooms wend their way across the gentler seasons to the point where autumn is vanquished and winter once more imposes its frozen will upon every living thing beneath the sky. But for the time that the flowers reign, in my own garden and everywhere else on my land, they reign supreme. They command every attention and are seldom denied. They assail the senses with the most genteel insistence. While they bloom, they show themselves in every conceivable shape, size, and color, and they lure man and beast alike with fragrance and with nectar. Their petals are softer than silk, and when they fall, they offer tender cushion between the earth and the living beings which curl in slumber upon its crust. Sight, smell, taste, and touch: each concupiscent sense is tantalized by the sublime charms of the flowers, and each is duly gratified.

But can flowers be heard? Do they have a voice? Do they sing? Judging by their effects on me, and on the multitude of non-human visitors they attract, my answer to these questions comes without the slightest hesitation: Yes, a flower’s song is as real as the color and softness of its petals, and the fragrance and sweetness of its nectar.

The garden that I grow lies just beyond my kitchen window. During the spring, summer, and fall, the rainbow of flowers growing there is visible through this window. And when the window is open, tendrils of the most incredible combination of fragrances steal inside. But something else in my garden arrests my attention, and it does so whether my kitchen window is open or closed: it is the singing of the flowers. I can hear their lilting voices always. When I watch them nodding and swaying in the puff of a June’s zephyr, I see their rhythm, and I know that their song guides this measure. When I’m away from the window, and my back is turned, the flowers’ melody remains with me. Their chorus is as clear to me as the sound of my own heart’s beating in my ears. The singing of the flowers is undeniable, and it is a siren song. It calls me to them, and I go. When I stand in their midst and they know they’ve wholly captivated me, their song is paused, and I hear their susurrous rustlings, as if they’re turning the pages of a collective songbook to their next selection. And their singing begins again. From inside my bedroom at night, I can hear the flowers’ song, and it is a lullaby.

The floral choir which grows along the tangled paths beneath the canopy of trees in the woods on my land performs a concert for the deer who live here. The doe and their fawns, the bucks; all pause in their grazing of the sustaining green foliage of tree and bush to listen. Their meals forgotten, they canter and prance as the flowers sing their songs. The daffodils and dandelions are the sopranos, and the speckled young deer twitch their ears in time to their plaintive notes. The duet of the clover and prunella is rendered in a dulcet vibrato which inspires a meandering waltz performed by the fawns’ swaying antlered sires and nuzzling dams. When twilight comes to the forest, the flowers sing the deer to sleep, sotto voce. Crickets perform the harmony.

In the heat of the day in summer, the flowers growing in my garden call to the butterflies. At first, the colors and scents of the blooms seem their obvious invitation. But no flower’s melody goes unheard by the fluttering seraphim. No flower’s song fails to incite the winged visitors to looping, ethereal dance. Long after the monarchs, swallowtails, and their kin have partaken fully of the flowers’ offered repast, each remains above the petals to dance to the flower’s song. Sometimes the dance is a solo tap routine, other times two butterflies perform an aerial jitterbug in the great hall of the singing flowers. Why should a butterfly remain in the garden long after it’s eaten its fill? For what reason should it stay and dart and swoop and shimmy within earshot of each bloom, other than to hear that flower’s song? The butterflies hear the singing of the flowers, and they rejoice in its timbre and float along with its cadence.

Bees come to my garden to eat and to harvest the flowers’ nourishing golden pollen. And like the butterflies, they come to listen to the flowers’ singing and to dance. But bees make music, too. And they love nothing more than to join the chorus. The flowers sing their song, the bees hum theirs. Long after the bees have eaten, long after their pollen baskets are full, they linger. They remain in joyful harmony with their petaled, garden chanteuses until dusk, when the performance reaches its crescendo, the notes finally evanesce, and only the somnolent evensong of the flowers can be heard.

In my world — on my land, in my garden — each flower has a voice. And each flower’s song can be heard clearly by each and every creature who chooses to listen. Sometimes the song carries wide and long, and sometimes it’s sung with barely audible gentleness. It may be heard throughout the sunny daylight hours, or during the starry nights. But that song, whether loud or soft, and no matter the hour of its rendition, remains always in the heart of each who hears it. In the coldest and darkest grip of winter, any creature ever to have fallen under the spell of a flower’s serenade need only heed its own heartbeat — and listen closely to it — to once more hear the flower and its paean to life’s vibrant glory, and rejoice in the inevitable majesty of spring.

J.G.S. (January, 2023)

7 Replies to “Guest post: “A Flower’s Song” by John G. Stamos”

  1. JGS, you are a wonderful storyteller and poet. You take us by the hand in the paths of your forests and in your garden and make us feel your emotions. Eyes closed, we can relive them by following you. Thank you for this splendid walk 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that too: that flowers sing and dance, that all in nature sings and dances, but we left our angelic senses behind, „Hidden in childhood“, so, most humans forgot, not only how is the voice of the flowers, but also, that there was a time when they could sense it. You didn’t lose that capability, John, and along with that beautiful and clear way to express yourself… well…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So beautiful! I saw them dancing and singing in my mind as I read. What a beautiful sight!! Thank you for bringing flowers to life for me I almost thought I could smell their beautiful sent. As they dang and danced.

    Liked by 1 person

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