Thursday 31 May 2012

The politics of flower picking

Hello there, thanks for all your lovely comments about my tea towel, I must say that I did enjoy making it despite the last minute rush the night before the wedding.

Yesterday, I asked a friend what she thought of picking flowers? It was the lovely Annie of Knitsofacto who got me thinking about doing a little post about this. She was talking about the purposeful and beautiful cow parsley that seems to be flourishing everywhere in the UK at the moment. Whilst reading her post I was thinking about my little addiction. 

What do I mean by my little addiction? Well, I like to try and have a jam jar of picked free (thrifted?) flowers each week in our dining room. Something to feel dreamy about in the blurry early morning breakfasts and to light up with candles in the hazy Summer evening meals. 

So each week, I go walking or cycling and picking flowers. Now for the BIG question.... Where do I pick these free flowers? And am I wrong to do so? 

When I was growing up in South Africa, we had a big garden and it was easy to pick flowers, pretty foliage and twigs etc from our own property. Living in our mid-terraced English home, we only have a courtyard big enough for hanging out washing, a bench and table and 2 chairs and as many pots as I can choicefully gather and create a little flora haven of our own.

Alice has grown up with her mama teaching her to pick flowers from our pots and put them one by one into my old bottle collection or jam jars or little jugs for us to enjoy indoors. 

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that we NEED little flowers in our lives. If something is missing, it's usually because we don't have a floral delight somewhere in our home. 

I don't know about you but I just can't help picking flowers. I'm not fussy about what flowers, I'm just happy to be able to have them. On the way to work a last week I couldn't stop help myself from picking some buttercups to put through a button hole in my cardigan. I often pick cherry blossoms in the Spring and thread the twig through a clip in my hair. I seriously can't resist the temptation. I think I may have a problem!

There are limitations to my addiction and here are my do's and don'ts:

Don't: pick flowers from anyone's garden, pick daffodils or tulips in the countryside, pick flowers in a park or in the gardens along the sea-front or purposefully planted by the council, pick flowers that stand alone.

Do: pick flowers that are plentiful and not the only one, pick flowers in the hedgerows, growing in-between the pavement cracks, along the walkway to my recycling bins, from my own pots, in friends (who will let me) gardens.

Please do tell me if my Do's are wrong, I would hate to be offending anyone and picking wild flowers that I really shouldn't be. Is there a code for this kind of thrifting of flowers? Have I just admitted to a crime?

I do have a niggling guilt when I pick a flower thinking that other people would be enjoying it's beauty instead of me selfishly thinking I want that for my own. Am I right or wrong? Please do let me know your opinion so that can adjust my behaviour so as not to offend anyone. I certainly don't mean to and eeeeekkkkk don't like the idea of committing crime!

In the meantime while I await your wise words, I shall admire my first attempt at guerilla gardening in our pebbly front garden. {I basically just threw poppy seeds over the pebbles and hoped they would grow}.

Thanks for popping in
Oh, and for your opinions too 


  1. I have the same dos and don'ts but don't pick flowers that often. There are so many in the madows around our house that I don't need them inside of the house.
    There is a red list of flowers you must know (especially on uncommon grounds, like for me the mountains or a foreign country). Even there are plenty of flowers somewhere, they might be "forbidden fruits".

    Your flowers look beautiful. Enjoy!

  2. I tried to find out what cow parsley is (now that you are talking about it too). "Wiesenkerbel" probabely (anthriscus sylvestris).

    1. Yup, that's it :D American's call it Queen Anne's Lace.

    2. Thank you. Queen Anne's Lace? I thought I crocheted at least three of them. ;-) I might show you ...

    3. I tend to use Queen Anne's Lace for Daucus Carota - and call Anthriscus Cow Parsley. But yes, some do call it QAL. :)

  3. Penelope you do much the same as me I think. I know which plants are protected and I avoid those, and I also tend to skip the flowers that don't last long once picked. Luckily for me I live in the countryside and am surrounded by an abundance of free floral gorgeousness!

    You might find this handy.

  4. Penelope, I don't think anyone could possibly object to your secret addiction; you very sensibly avoid the endangered species and other no-no's. One flower growing between the cracks, amongst many others - well, why not. Different matter if you pinch them from a wild wood or something like that. Crumbs, I remember picking ARMSFUL of bluebells from our local woods when I was a child - but this was way before anyone could imagine them becoming scarce. (Like, more than 50 years ago. Ouch!) And fortunately, bluebells seem to have made a comeback.

    carry on brightening up your surroundings, I'd say.

  5. I think it's a wonderful addiction and like Lynn says who could object? I never really pick wild flowers as when I do and bring them indoors I always seem to get a home full of little bugs too - how do you get round this? Or maybe it's just me that has this trouble :)
    Victoria xx

  6. at least you have a code of ethics for your flora heists and don't just go and pillage people's front gardens heheheeh!!!! I doubt anyone would deny you picking a flower if it brings you so much joy :O) And love your guerilla gardening, can't wait to see the results! XXXXX

  7. This is something I have been thinking about this week actually! On the walk to my son's school there is a road where both sides are literally covered in cow parsley and I have been really wanting to pick some! But I haven't had the courage to yet because I wasn't sure if I should! I did see another mum and her children picking some the other day so that made me feel more like it is an acceptable thing to do! I think as long are you are selective and careful where you take it from, it is ok! Your flowers look really beautiful.

  8. I think cow parsley is generally regarded as a weed, so dig out!

  9. Your flower jars are too sweet. it's a nice addiction to have.

    I like having flowers in the house but prefer bright, extravagant bunches of cut flowers, and like to leave wildflowers in the wild. They are lovely, but they wilt so quickly. Then again, we are blessed to have a pretty garden and I suppose that does make a difference.

  10. I sometimes will pick the odd flower if there is an abundance,or hanging over the fence and footpath. I feel like I am doing a civic duty by keeping the pathway clear :) I say go for it, you love and appreciate the beauty unlike a lot of people who probably don't even notice.
    xx Sandi

  11. I say, you can't meassure the good vibes high enough that your flower love brings to you, and this will float to your family and friends and blogreaders and hey! the whole world. Go on. Pick flowers. Those who will notice pretty blossom will notice them anywhere, those who don't notice them won't notice them at all. Errr, know what I mean?
    xo Hilde

  12. That first photo of the rose with the fan is stunning, such a beautiful colour. I usually only pick flowers for my tortoises to eat!! x

  13. I like your rules - they make perfect sense. And your jam-jar bouquet is exactly the sort I like best - such a lovely jumble of beauty. What is that purple blossom with the yellow centres?