Friday 5 July 2019

Michael's Gardening Blog: Appreciating Flowers

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This month's blog post by green-fingered Emmaus resident, Michael, is all about the appreciation of flowers in the garden.

Michael, who is keen gardener, works in the Emmaus Hertfordshire garden growing vegetables, flowers and other plants to sell in our social enterprise. 

Michael came to Emmaus in 2015 and is one of 39 companions now being supported by Emmaus Hertfordshire following homelessness and social exclusion. Before Emmaus, Michael was a self-employed gardener with daily clients before the recession hit and he lost most of his work.

Michael ended up homeless, sleeping in the woods, under bridges and in a disused factory for six weeks before finding Emmaus. You can read more about Michael's experience here. But now, over to Michael...

As William Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Although not everyone knows or uses botanical names for flowers, we don't have to know the name of a flower or any plant to appreciate it's beauty.

Looking at and appreciating nature's beauty is what got me into horticulture, and even more so now I have begun to take mindfulness classes which encourage people to get out in nature. It can sometimes be difficult to look at life positively, and when that happens I always think back to roses - do we complain about the thorn bush having roses on, or do we delight in the rose bush having thorns? 

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One interesting flower I have been growing in the Emmaus Hertfordshire garden is the passion flower. The passion flower is an evergreen climber with exotic looking flowers, sometimes followed by brightly coloured fruits. 


There's a story behind the passion flower too - discovered by Spanish Christian missionaries in South America, each part of the flower holds symbolic meaning in recognition of the crucifixion story - the passion of the Christ. Five sepals and five petals refer to the ten faithful apostles and three stigma represent the three nails that held Christ to the cross, while five anthers represent his five sacred wounds.

But it not all about us appreciating the beauty of a flower - there's a good reason for them to be attractive. Flowers are not only beautiful or scented for us, but so insects are attracted to them and pollinate them. If you think about other types of plants which don't need insects to pollinate, such as grasses, grains and sweetcorn which use wind, they don't look good or need to be scented. 

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To read other blog posts by Michael, please visit his articles on Letting Wildlife Help Your Veg Garden and Turning Stinging Nettles Into Your Friend.

To find out more about life in the Emmaus Hertfordshire community and how residents are supported while they rebuild their lives following homelessness, please visit Life in Our Community